Advanced Search

Chapter 22: Scientific Support Material: Fingermarks and Photographs

22.1. All scientific support departments should follow procedures and working practices which ensure compliance with the requirements of the Code of Practice. Accurate and full records must be kept of all scene examinations, including details of any items retained as potential exhibits. Where such items are submitted for further examination, for example by the fingerprint bureau, the record should indicate that this has been done.

22.2. The Code of Practice requires the recording and retention of relevant material and information obtained in a criminal investigation. This will include negative information, for example where no fingermarks are found at a scene, or where the fingermark cannot be identified as belonging to a known suspect. The minimum periods of retention are set out in paragraphs 5.6 to 5.10 of the Code of Practice, but local force policy may determine longer periods.

22.3. The records of scientific support units in relation to a criminal investigation should be made available to the disclosure officer. This will ensure that the disclosure officer can carry out the task of scheduling unused material for the prosecutor. If necessary, scientific support staff should help the disclosure officer identify material which satisfies the disclosure test.

Fingermarks and photographs

22.4. All fingermarks lifted or photographed at the scene must be recorded, retained and made available to the disclosure officer.

22.5. Where an exhibit is examined in the fingerprint laboratory, all relevant fingermarks must be recorded, and any lifts or photographic negatives retained. Again, this information should be made available to the disclosure officer.

22.6. The result of any fingerprint examination is expressed in a number of different categories. All marks should be retained and the result of each made known to the disclosure officer.

22.7. Where a fingermark is eliminated from the enquiry because it is identified as belonging to a person having legitimate access, it must still be retained. A record should be kept of the identity of the person eliminated from the enquiry. Once the elimination process has been completed, ten print elimination forms should be disposed of by either returning to the donor or by destruction.

22.8. Where photographs are taken, all the negatives or other media should be retained, even if the photographs are not intended to be used as evidence. A record should be kept of the total number of photographs made, and if a statement is provided, this information should be included in the statement.

Top of page