06/27/2000

POLICE FORCE FIRST WITH COMPUTER PALM PRINT BREAKTHROUGH

Press Association Newsfile -- A police force was today claiming to be first in Western Europe to use a new computer system which enables police to track down criminals by their palm prints.Avon and Somerset Constabulary are investing #90,000 over the next three years in the Cogent Palm Search System which compares palm prints recovered from crime scenes with those of people arrested. Like fingerprints, every palm print is unique, and the new technology enables experts to quickly search the computer database to find whether there are any matches which will link suspects to crimes.Previously fingerprint officers had to visually compare the palm prints to those of known offenders, which was a long and difficult process.Ken Hobbs, head of the force's fingerprint bureau, said: "This system is a significant advance in the use of new technology to fight crime."It will be particularly useful where we recover part of a palm print from a crime scene but do not get any fingerprints."The system, which was developed in the US, will be used to review thousands of unsolved crimes in the force area.The palm prints collected from the scenes of unsolved crimes going back over many years will be fed into the computerised system in an effort to find a match.The new technology will complement the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System which Avon and Somerset police helped to pioneer.

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