Biometrics database fingers criminal suspects

Celebrating a centenary of fingerprinting in NSW today Police Minister John Watkins released the latest results of NSW Police Force's biometric technology programs, Livescan and Phototrac.

Watkins said Livescan digital fingerprinting machines have been installed in 86 NSW Police stations and more than 2.5 million fingerprints were now on file.

He said the machines use lasers to scan 100 per cent perfect prints and match them against the database in minutes, exposing false identities, criminal histories and potential risks.

Since July 2001, Livescan has been used to fingerprint 89,829 people, leading to 1748 matches in the unsolved crimes database and to 775 outstanding arrest warrants being executed.

"Without the almost instantaneous checks Livescan makes possible, many of these people may have evaded detection," Watkins said.

"And the installation of Phototrac digital image capturing will mean even more criminals off the streets across NSW."

He said the technology meant police had quick and easy access to offender fingerprints and could also access photographs using a police intranet.

Phototrac also allows pictures of offenders taken during crimes - such as surveillance tapes from banks, hotels or service stations - to be matched against images of known offenders.

Watkins said the 350,000 photos currently available on the database were being checked against 700 crimes every month. Photos are being added at a rate of 80,000 per year.

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