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Science & Technology

Are your fingerprints truly unique ?

By T.K. Randall
April 22, 2014 · Comment icon 15 comments



Can two people share the same fingerprints ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 D. Sharon Pruitt
Fingerprints are often used to identify criminals, but does everyone really have a unique fingerprint ?
According to Home Office expert Mike Silverman, the process of using fingerprints and a computer database to identify someone at a crime scene is fundamentally flawed.

Silverman, a veteran of fingerprinting technology having introduced the first automated fingerprint detection system to the Metropolitan Police, believes that a combination of false positives, partial prints and human error can make fingerprint identification unreliable.
In particular he maintains that there is no conclusive evidence to support the idea that it is impossible for two different people to share matching fingerprints, even if the chances of such an occurrence are comparable to those of winning the lottery.

"Despite the way fingerprint evidence is portrayed in the media, all comparisons ultimately involve some human element and, as a result, they are vulnerable to human error," he said.

Source: Telegraph | Comments (15)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #6 Posted by Twinkle Arora is back 10 years ago
Why not have the database run for identical prints in its own system. If a match is found that belongs to more than a unique individual, then it means fingerprints may not be identical. Besides, any booked person has their entire 10 digits inked anyway. What are the odds of two individuals having the same fingerprints on all 10 fingers? You have a point, but even if the odds of that are very low and then multiplying that with the number of times the attempts are made to scan the prints per unit time (including all ten fingerprints) can make it a reasonable occurrence, But then again I don't ha... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by zeek wulfe 10 years ago
Back before the earth's crust cooled, I was a court approved fingerprint expert. I also taught the Henry system of fingerprint identification and classification to crime scene investigators. It is true that fingerprints can be 'forged' by deceitful investigators, but in the normal course of things these forgeries rarely happen. I never came across a case where it had been done. Fingerprints are classified by shape and location on the hand. There are: loops, ulnar and radial, whorls, inner and outer, arches, plain and tented. These are commonly found on the fingertips, but some people have thes... [More]
Comment icon #8 Posted by GS1981 10 years ago
Do identical twins have unique finger prints?
Comment icon #9 Posted by Imaginarynumber1 10 years ago
Do identical twins have unique finger prints? Yes
Comment icon #10 Posted by TheGreatBeliever 10 years ago
Of cos they r. Billions of us yet not one is same
Comment icon #11 Posted by zeek wulfe 10 years ago
May I say that if a person wants to make a comment, no matter the topic, clear and concise English is most helpful. Truncated words and grammer are a sign of poor education. Sophisticated people flee to the exits when confronted by this trendy rubbish. You want to learn about fingerprints and fingerprinting? Ask me, I'm an expert with many years experience.
Comment icon #12 Posted by zeek wulfe 10 years ago
The black and white photograph of two fingers at the top of this article are fingers #3 & 4. Number 3 in an ulnar loop with a "0" value and number 4 is a whorl with a "0" value. If the fingers were of the left hand then #3 would be #8 a 'radial' with a "0" value...very unusual with only a small percentage of the population having that feature especially in conjunction with the neighboring whorl.
Comment icon #13 Posted by pallidin 10 years ago
I agree. Since no global analysis has ever been done, it's absurd to conclude that no 2 fingerprints are the same. Now, a highly specific abnormality(think "scar line" from a pevious cut, or an open wound on the finger tip during the altercation) might be a whole different story, as the odds of two people having identical fingerprints AND identical fingerprint scar line(s) would pressumably be astronomical at best. Come to think of it, fingerprints ALONE (zero other evidence), even on a murder weapon, is usually not enough for a conviction without substantive circumstantial evidence. Just my o... [More]
Comment icon #14 Posted by DieChecker 10 years ago
Do identical twins have unique finger prints? My identical twin brother and I don't have matching fingerprints. Close, but not identical. Even if you take the occasional scar away. I'm voting with Psychotic, even if there are 2 or 3 matches to a single print in a database, that makes investigating a lot easier then starting off with 50,000 people.
Comment icon #15 Posted by jugoso 10 years ago
I´m suspect iris recognition will be the new norm soon. .


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