Fingerprint scanners helping join the dots

THEY’RE light, rugged and portable ... and one of the most comprehensive crime fighting tools employed by police.

Mobile fingerprint scanners are paying dividends in Chifley Local Area Command, pulling up criminals in the field and often linking them to bigger, outstanding offences.

Crime manager within Chifley Local Area Command, Acting Inspector Gareth Smith said a perfect example of how the scanners work was the recent arrest of two juveniles who were charged with break and enter offences after police took their fingerprints on an unrelated matter.

After police scanned their fingerprints, one of the juveniles was allegedly linked to 10 break-ins, the second to 12, and they were subsequently charged with all the offences.

Acting Superintendent Mark Wall said the scanners are used by police for Field Court Attendance Notices and criminal infringement notices for things like failing to quit a licensed premise or shoplifting offences.

He said the scanners enable officers to take a thumbprint in the field, and with that information police can potentially link the offender to outstanding warrants or crimes. 

“With our new scene-of-crime Forensic Services Group officers we take fingerprints at every break and enter, and we often get hits [for outstanding offences] from the fingerprint scanner,” he said.

He said police intelligence is also sent back to the officer when the print goes through, for example, if the offender is wanted in relation to another matter, or has a history of running from police.

Within 90 seconds of capturing an offender’s fingerprints, the device taps into and cross checks the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS,) which contains four million records from every state jurisdiction, via 3G wireless technology.

“If the offender is on the national fingerprint database, police can check for any outstanding arrest warrants, warnings or breaches of bail they may have on their record,” he said.

Acting Superintendent Wall said it also stops offenders giving police false information such as a fake name or address, which is a common occurrence when offenders know they have outstanding matters.

Constable Matt Holden with portable finger print machine.

Constable Matt Holden with portable finger print machine.