Forensic Symposium

International Forensic Science Managers Symposium

Held every three years, this important forum brings together laboratory managers from INTERPOL countries across the world.

It presents advances in scientific methods and suggests ways to apply them in criminal investigations.

Next event

  • Date: 11 - 13 October 2016
  • Location: INTERPOL General Secretariat, Lyon, France


The symposium lasts three days and includes different types of sessions, for example:

  • The review of scientific papers;
  • Poster presentations;
  • Thematic workshops;
  • Panel discussions and question and answer sessions.


Bringing together specialists from INTERPOL member countries across the world, the symposium facilitates the following activities:

  • Exchanging information to enhance scientific contributions in criminal investigation and the administration of justice;
  • Presenting updates made in forensic evidence types over the previous three years;
  • Discussing current problems and proposing possible solutions;
  • Identifying trends and their potential impact on forensic science.


Selected laboratories coordinate the symposium, overseen by an Organizing Committee. The laboratories have internationally recognized competence and carry out the following functions:

  • Reviewing progress and trends of evidence types;
  • Preparing overview documents;
  • Presenting the key issues for review.


If you would like to find out more about the next symposium please contact your INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB).



Fingerprint evidence plays a crucial role in criminal investigations. Since a person’s fingerprints are unique and do not change during the course of their life, they can be used to quickly and efficiently confirm or disprove a person’s identity, for example, in checking a suspect at a border crossing. 

In addition, finger marks can be collected at a crime scene and have the potential to link a series of crimes together, or to place a suspect at the scene. Fingerprints play an equally important role in identifying victims following a disaster such as a cyclone, earthquake, bombing or other attack. 

INTERPOL's fingerprints database

At INTERPOL, we manage a database of fingerprints, containing more than 162,000 fingerprint records (as of August 2016). 

Authorized users in member countries can view, submit and cross-check fingerprint records using I-24/7, INTERPOL’s secure global police communications network, via a user-friendly automatic fingerprint identification system (AFIS).

Law enforcement officers can either take fingerprints using an electronic device or can take them manually using ink and paper then use a special scanner to save the data electronically in the appropriate format. They then submit the data to the INTERPOL General Secretariat to be uploaded to the database. Records are saved and exchanged in the format set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

We actively encourage member countries to use the database as extensively as possible, in accordance with INTERPOL's Rules on the Processing of Data, and increase the number of relevant fingerprints in the system.

In order to assist member countries improve the quality and quantity of fingerprint records submitted to INTERPOL AFIS, we have prepared two documents: Guidelines concerning Fingerprints Transmission and  Guidelines concerning transmission of Fingerprint Crime Scene Marks.

During the period from January to August 2016, we made more than 800 identifications as a result of increased data sharing and comparison by member countries.


The INTERPOL Fingerprint Unit provides a service called AFIS gateway, which allows member countries to submit remotely a fingerprint search (INT-I compliant file) against the INTERPOL AFIS database and receive an automated response. We implemented in 2010 a new AFIS which is capable of searching and filing palm prints and latent palm marks.

Automated ten-print verification has been introduced, along with a high-volume search facility that allows more than 1,000 comparisons per day against the INTERPOL fingerprint database which runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Sharing best practice

An International Fingerprint Symposium takes place every two years. Attended by the Heads of National Fingerprint Bureaus, INTERPOL representatives and private companies, it provides an opportunity for experts from around the world to share best practice and latest developments. 

In addition to the Symposium, INTERPOL organizes an AFIS experts’ working group. This takes place twice a year and is a forum for discussing new technology, identification procedures and training needs, and for ensuring that INTERPOL’s systems comply with the necessary standards.

The group has agreed the INTERPOL Implementation of ANSI/NIST-ITL 1-2007: access version 5.03 here (dated 7 April 2011).