Countries urged to make increased use of INTERPOL fingerprints database

4 June 2008

The 5th International Symposium on fingerprints opened at the INTERPOL General Secretariat today with a call for a greater sharing of fingerprint data on an international level.

INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said that the organization’s goal was to increase the number of fingerprints stored in INTERPOL’s database to more than one million within the next year.

“As INTERPOL’s databases grow, so too do the number of positive hits being generated by member countries – we have seen this with our databases for names, stolen and lost travel documents and stolen motor vehicles, and we must now aim to achieve the same significant results with fingerprints,” said Secretary General Noble.

“The importance of fingerprint analysis can be traced back to the very beginnings of INTERPOL 85 years ago, and today, armed with modern technology this most classic form of identification continues to play an integral role in identifying criminals no matter where they commit their crime or where they attempt to hide.”

In June 2007, police in Monaco ran an unknown finger mark recovered from the scene of an armed robbery against INTERPOL’s database, resulting in a positive match to a serial offender wanted for violent crimes in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Serbia and Switzerland. The suspect, whose fingerprints and name had been given to the General Secretariat in June 2004, had escaped from a Serbian prison in October 2005 while serving a sentence for attempted murder.

“This case is a perfect example of how well the system can work when essential information is shared via INTERPOL, and we want to help all our member countries achieve these same results which we can do, with their input and support,” added Mr Noble.

More than 100 delegates including fingerprint and identification experts from 54 countries from all four INTERPOL regions are attending the three-day symposium. Participants will be updated on the rollout of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System to each of the 186 National Central Bureaus which will provide them with instant access to INTERPOL’s central global fingerprints database.

Other issues on the agenda include fingerprint alteration by criminals to attempt to avoid identification and evidence evaluation in fingerprint comparison.