In 1998 the Commonwealth Government pledged to establish a $50 million national policing information service – to ensure that community safety was not just a local problem but a national priority.
The CrimTrac Agency has and continues to deliver on this promise by incorporating 21st century technology into the policing environment with the implementation of the new national automated fingerprint Identification system (NAFIS) and national criminal investigation DNA database (NCIDD). Both the NAFIS and NCIDD systems are fully operational and available to police agencies and their respective forensic laboratories.
The new NAFIS replaced its predecessor, the NEC NAFIS that had operated in Australia since the early 1980’s. The new NAFIS adopts more precise technical standards, including the international ‘grey scale’ image standards containing 256 shades of grey (from black through to white). The use of grey scale images complies with the American National Standards Institute/ National Institute for Standards and Technology (ANSI/ NIST) standards for fingerprint data exchange, making it easy for Australian police services to provide fingerprint records to overseas police forces such as Interpol or the FBI, when necessary.
As with all CrimTrac systems the NAFIS system design incorporates stringent data and communications security measures.
The “SAGEM” (AFIS Vendor) Livescan Device
Workstations for the new CrimTrac system are located in 39 city and remote locations throughout Australia, connected to a central database of 2.6 million “ten print” records and 320,000 prints from unsolved crime scenes. Forensic trained personnel are able to use the NAFIS workstations to scan fingerprints from fingerprint cards, capture and enhance crime scene finger and palm evidence and upload digital fingerprint images. The same workstations enable the fingerprint expert to review and assess matches made by the NAFIS system by comparing the high quality images made available by the new technology.
Additionally, the new fingerprint system captures palm prints images obtained by police during the arrest process. Palm prints make up approximately twenty per cent of print evidence gathered at crime scenes. NAFIS enables crime scene palm evidence to be searched against the 4.8 million palm records held on what is now recognised as the largest palm database in the world.
It provides fast, powerful and accurate matching capabilities for the increasing numbers of Australian fingerprint records. Enhanced data input methods have improved the quality and speed of data capture. The NAFIS system now accepts fingerprints taken by a range of methods, including the ‘Livescan’ technology.
Livescan’s inkless process uses electronic and laser technology to scan fingers and palms from a flat glass optical block to produce clear, undistorted records. This process enables police officers to enter the fingerprint records into NAFIS electronically for an immediate search against the national database and receive confirmation of a positive identification before that person is released from custody.
Crime scene officers also benefit from the new technology. They are able to use digital cameras for collecting fingerprints, providing faster and more reliable data collection techniques and a further reduction in data input processing.
‘CrimTrac’ will act as the conduit through which the Australian Police community will be able to access pools of data held by the individual police jurisdictions and other law enforcement agencies. The Criminal Police Record System (CPRS) will enable police investigators access to data including; a national Child Sex Offender register and fast access to important operational information including domestic violence orders, person warnings and stolen vehicle and firearm information.
By linking information held by the individual law enforcement agencies across the country, it is envisaged that there will be a significant increase in the number of persons identified and prosecuted for criminal activities. It is one day envisaged that such systems will allow police officers in the tiniest outback town or the heart of a capital city to get the information they need, when they need it.
To find out more information about the CrimTrac Agency and what role it plays in Australian Law Enforcement please visit the CrimTrac site by clicking here.