(TELEGRAPH) — Fingerprint evidence linking criminals to crime scenes has played a fundamental role in convictions in Britain since the first forensic laboratory was set up in Scotland Yard in 1901.
But the basic assumption that everyone has a unique fingerprint from which they can be quickly identified through a computer database is flawed, an expert has claimed.
Mike Silverman, who introduced the first automated fingerprint detection system to the Metropolitan Police, claims that human error, partial prints and false positives mean that fingerprints evidence is not as reliable as is widely believed.
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Nobody has yet proved that fingerprints are unique and families can share elements of the same pattern.