It is only in January this year that the state police launched a digital database of fingerprints.(HT File)
It is only in January this year that the state police launched a digital database of fingerprints.(HT File)

Karnataka cops put ink away as fingerprints go hi-tech

  • More than 1,000 fingerprint scanners and proprietary software have been deployed at all police stations across Karnataka.
By Arun Dev , Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
PUBLISHED ON FEB 20, 2021 10:57 AM IST

Even though Bengaluru is known as the technology capital of the country, police in the Silicon Valley of India was using the archaic method of using ink for taking fingerprints until two months ago. It is only in January this year that the state police launched a digital database of fingerprints and introduced software from Japan to record and compare fingerprints from a central database.

More than 1,000 fingerprint scanners and proprietary software, costing approximately 1 lakh each, have been deployed at all police stations across the state. Inspector-General of Police, R Hitendra, who holds the additional charge of crime and technical services said this software will now enable the force to compare the fingerprints recovered from a crime scene without sending them to the police headquarters for manual verification.

“In the earlier system, when a criminal is caught, his/her fingerprints were taken on a paper after applying ink on their fingers. This paper was then sent to the district headquarters following which the details are entered into a database,” Hitendra said.

As the fingerprints were stored across each district headquarters, city police commissionerates or other nodal agencies, a police officer had to send them requests whenever they needed to compare a fingerprint.

“In case the officials of a police station needed information on the set of fingerprints they found at a crime scene or from a person they arrested, they have to send the paper prints to one of these headquarters. These prints were matched with details in the database and a report was sent back. This was a time-consuming process,” the officer added.

With the complete digitalisation of the database and the introduction of the new software, every police station now has access to fingerprint data.

While explaining the latest process, the officer said that it is nowhere close to what is seen in pop culture. “Fingerprints are not verified by looking through a bunch of photos or graphs of the fingerprint patterns. To explain it in layman’s language, the patterns on each finger is given a number using a formula. The combination of the 10 digits for 10 fingers forms the unique id for each person,” he said. “Since a unique code is attached to each fingerprint, a criminal record of the person is attached to the data as well. Thus, a fingerprint and criminal background updated in any part of the state would be available to the police stations,” he added.

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