The fingerprint branch established in 1903, as part of the Detective Branch, was instantaneously heralded as an effective tool of criminal detection. Later, when photographs were added to fingerprint information, this area became the cornerstone of criminal investigative work.
The first officer in charge of the Fingerprint Branch was Walter Henry-Childs. He later rose through the ranks to become Commissioner of Police from 1930 to 1935.
For the 83 years between 1903 and 1986 fingerprint searching was done manually, although some automation was introduced into the recording areas.
1986 saw the introduction of a computerised classification system which offers police almost immediate response to inquiries, not only within NSW but throughout the entire country.