GLOUCESTERSHIRE POLICE CONSTABULARY’S FINGERPRINT KIT (CIRCA 1940’S)

A SUPERB PIECE OF GLOUCESTERSHIRE POLICE CRIME SCENE MEMORABILIA  ON DISPLAY AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL

JUST ONE OF A GREAT MANY BRITISH POLICE MEMORABILIA ITEMS THROUGH THE AGES ON DISPLAY IN ONE OF THE UK’S LARGEST PRIVATE COLLECTIONS OF LAW AND ORDER MATERIAL . 

BELOW ARE VARIOUS IMAGES OF WHAT  IS BELIEVED TO BE ONE OF THE VERY FEW SURVIVING VINTAGE  GLOUCESTERSHIRE CONSTABULARY’S FINGERPRINT KITS (CIRCA 1940’S) . COMPLETE WITH IT’S ORIGINAL BOX, INKS, ROLLER, POWDERS AND BRUSHES ETC .ALSO VARIOUS APPROPRIATE  DOCUMENTATION FOR FINGERPRINT EVIDENCE PURPOSES . VIEW OF  UNOPENED FINGERPRINT KIT BOXVARIOUS POLICE AND CRIME SCENE DOCUMENTATION FOUND WITHIN THE INNER SLEEVE OF FINGERPRINT KIT BOX

Fingerprint Bureau

Very many books and scientific papers have been published on the subject of Fingerprints, and reference to ‘the prints from man’s hand’ can even be found in the Bible.

The study of the application of fingerprints for useful purposes appears to have started in the latter part of the 17th century when, in 1684, the anatomist Doctor Nehemiah Grew published a paper on the subject which he illustrated with drawings of various fingerprint patterns. About the same period, in Italy, Professor Malpighi was investigating the function of the skin.

It was in 1860 that the use of fingerprints as a reliable means of individual identification really started. Sir William Herschel, an administrator in the province of Bengal, India, appreciated the unique nature of fingerprints and established the principle of their persistence. Fingerprints are formed in full detail before birth and remain unchanged throughout life unless they are affected by a deep seated injury. A method of classifying fingerprints and research in this field was initiated by Sir Francis Galton and Henry Faulds independently at the end of the 19th century.

Anthropometric measuring devices

Anthropometric measuring devices in brass and mounted on wood. Used in the Alphonse Bertillon system of identification

In 1900 a committee was appointed by the Home Secretary under the chairmanship of Lord Belper to enquire into methods of the ‘Identification of Criminals by Measurement and Fingerprints’. About this time, Mr. E.R. Henry, later to become Sir Edward Henry, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, published his book, ‘The Classification and Use of Fingerprints’. This proposed a method of fingerprint classification and comparison to replace the inaccurate Bertillon anthropometric measurement system, which was then in use, which only partially relied upon fingerprints for identification. Henry was one of sixteen witnesses invited to appear before this committee to explain the system which he had devised. Following the recommendations made by this committee, the Fingerprint Branch at New Scotland Yard was created in July 1901 using the Henry System of Classification.

The Fingerprint Branch at New Scotland Yard, which started with just three people, has expanded over the years and the present Identification Service is now provided by a staff of 600 technical and administrative officers. Today, there are two Fingerprint Bureaux at New Scotland Yard, viz. the National Fingerprint Office (which together with the National Criminal Record Office forms the National Identification Bureau) and the Metropolitan Police Scenes of Crime Branch, which incorporates the Fingerprint, Photographic and Scenes of Crime Examination Services.

The importance of having a National Fingerprint Collection has been recognised by all police forces in the United Kingdom even though they have their own local fingerprint bureaux.

Each day, the fingerprints of people who have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment, and those who have been arrested and charged with other than the most minor offences, are sent to New Scotland Yard for processing. The fingerprints of those who are not subsequently convicted are, of course, destroyed.

One of the primary functions of the National Fingerprint Office is to establish whether the person has a previous record. After a name check has been made, the enquiry fingerprints are compared with the master set of any suggested match. If this proves negative, the fingerprints are coded and the coding transmitted to the Police National Computer at Hendon.

The coding of the enquiry prints is analysed by the computer and only those criminals whose prints could possibly match are listed as respondents on a computer print-out.

Until recently, Identification Officers would make a comparison of the enquiry with the paper fingerprint forms of the respondents, which are all filed in the National Fingerprint Collection, in order to establish whether any computer suggestion was positive.

However, after some years of research and planning, an automatic retrieval system known as the ‘Videofile System’ was installed and fingerprint comparisons are now made by Identification Officers at Visual Display Units.

These processes, which have eliminated the need for much laborious searching, often result in a rapid reply from the computer indicating that there is no inclusion which matches the coding enquiry fingerprints.

Within the organisation of the Scenes of Crime Branch there operates a field force of 200 Identification Officers and Scenes of Crime Officers who are responsible for examining Scenes of Crime throughout the Metropolitan Police District. Scenes of serious crime are examined for fingerprints by Senior Identification Officers. The function of these officers is to detect and record any finger or palm marks which an offender may have left at the scene. They also retrieve forensic clues, e.g. blood samples, shoe marks, etc., which are then forwarded to the Forensic Science Laboratory for analysis.

Finger and palm marks are sent to the Metropolitan Police Scenes of Crime Branch at New Scotland Yard where, after various elimination and checking procedures, the finger marks are coded for search on either the Police National Computer (Scenes of Crime System) or the Automatic Fingerprint Recognition System (AFR). The suggested possible fingerprint matches may be compared using the Videofile System or by browsing through the actual fingerprint collections. The Automatic Fingerprint Recognition System is a computerised method of matching fingerprints found at scenes of crime with recorded fingerprints of known offenders. The computer lists, in order of probability, any possible fingerprint matches, but does not itself make any ‘identical or not identical’ decisions. Palm marks are retained for comparison with the palm prints of persons suspected of committing the crime. Final comparisons between crime scene marks and offenders’ prints and decisions as to the identity are carried out by Identification Officers.

One of the earliest cases involving the use of fingerprint evidence was in 1905, when a thumb print, left on a cash box at the scene of a murder in Deptford of shopkeepers Mr. & Mrs. Farrow, was identified as belonging to Alfred Stratton, one of two brothers. As a result of this identification they were jointly charged with the crime and subsequently hanged.

Since then, fingerprint identification has played an important role in many major crime investigations, including such cases as the Great Train Robbery in 1963, and the sad case of Lesley Whittle, who was found brutally murdered in a drainage shaft at Kidsgrove in 1975, and the intriguing case of the ‘Stockwell Strangler’, who was responsible for the murders of eleven pensioners in 1986.

Apart from the technical assistance which is given by Fingerprint Staff in the investigation of crime, positive identification by means of fingerprints has given vital help in cases of serious accidents; for example, train and plane crashes. They have also been valuable in identifying people who have suffered from amnesia.

Like any other major organisation, the Identification Services are always seeking ways of improving the service provided. Although computerisation leads to greater efficiency, it cannot replace the individual expertise of trained Identification Officers and the final decision as to identity which is always made by a qualified Fingerprint Expert.

HOW TO COMPARE FINGERPRINTS … A SHORT VIDEO

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One thought on “GLOUCESTERSHIRE POLICE CONSTABULARY’S FINGERPRINT KIT (CIRCA 1940’S)

  1. Pingback: GLOUCESTERSHIRE & UK POLICE MEMORABILIA PAST AND PRESENT, HERE ON DISPLAY AT THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION, LITTLEDEAN JAIL | THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION …. HERE AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL, FOREST OF DEAN , GLOUCESTERSHIRE, UK

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