What are fingerprints?
Fingerprints are friction ridge skin that are found on the
palms of our hands and the soles of our feet. They form before birth on the
developing fingers of a baby in the womb due to pressure and are influenced by
a number of events, because of this each and every fingerprint is unique. The
friction ridge skin is used to enhance our grip and handle objects more
Fingerprints have been used as a method of identification
for thousands of years, as a method of signing contracts in ancient China.
However, using fingerprints as a way to identify criminals did not make an
appearance till 1880. As of now, fingerprinting is now one form of biometrics.
Due to being unique, fingerprints have a number of different
uses, some of these include:
Establishing the identity of someone/or corpse.
Establishing someone who was present at a crime
Linking recovered stolen property to a victim.
Connecting an individual to an object known to
have committed an offence, for example a firearm.
Using fingerprints as a source of evidence is very
important, this is because people can be convicted, freed or cleared on the
basis of this evidence alone.
Fingerprint classification was first introduced to the UK in
1901 and has since, stayed relatively the same.
The first level of detail involves looking at the macroscopic elements
of the fingerprint where we identify the Cores and Deltas of the print.
Fingerprints are classified into three types of patterns;
Loops – This is where the ridges of the print start on one
side of the finger and then curve around or upwards through the core and delta,
and exit the same side.
Arches – This is where one side of the ridges of the
fingerprint slope upwards and then slope downwards before exiting on the other
side from where it started.
Whorls – This is where some of the ridges go through a full
circle. A fingerprint that also has two or more deltas are also classified as a
As friction ridges skin is used to enhance our grip, they do
not run smooth across our fingers, toes, hands and feet. Instead they display a
number of characteristics known as minutiae:
Cross over bridge – a short ridge which runs between two
Bifurcation –a single ridge that has split into two spate ridges.
Lake – a single ridge that bifurcates and then re-joins to
continue the single ridge.
Spur – a bifurcation that has a short ridge branching off a
Dot – an independent ridge that has approximately the same
length and width.