an impression taken of the indents present on the finger tips. These have been used in the detection of crime since before the Fingerprint Bureau at Scotland Yard was established in 1901, relying on the hypothesis that no two people have the same fingerprint. The first conviction was secured in 1902. The process works by comparing distinctive features of the suspect print with a print found at the scene of the crime. Palm prints were used in 1931. In 2002 it was accepted that ear print evidence might be admissible but that scientific misgiving meant that it could be subject to critical cross-examination. The process is now computerized. See e.g. AUTOMATED FINGERPRINT IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM (AFIS). While the roots of the use of fingerprints are in criminal investigation, computerization means that the same concept and technology can be used for basic civilian identification purposes, even secure use of personal equipment.
Most years a new category of people to be fingerprinted is added,'' said Gary Maggy, chief of the bureau of criminal identification and information at the California Department of Justice, where roughly 651,000 fingerprints were submitted last year.