Home Dept invests massively in fingerprint identification

A similar database has already been in place at crime registration offices of Punjab Police

Muhammad Shahzad October 16, 2017

LAHORE: After introducing the Automated Fingerprints Information System (AFIS) at crime registration offices of the Police, the home Department is going to develop the same for the Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA) by June 2018 at a cost of Rs495 million.

Documents of the plan, available with The Express Tribune, showed that the purpose of this project was to develop a fingerprint database. The automated identification system was a computerised fingerprint database of known criminals and unknown latent prints from crime scenes.

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At first, 40 AFIS scanners will be deployed at selected prisons of Punjab to build a database of prison inmates and at PFSA satellite stations established at divisional headquarters. The system will be upgradeable and can be upgraded as per requirement.

A similar database had already been in place at Crime Registration offices of Punjab Police. It had been used to identify suspects using fingerprints collected from the crime scene. Punjab Police had also purchased mega fingerprint matchers and were using the technology in search operations and checking at pickets.

The database had been developed in cooperation with Punjab Information and Technology Board (PITB) after collecting the accused persons’ fingerprint challan in different cases. PITB had helped courts in developing software, using the AFIS system, to help gather fingerprints data of bail-seekers and guarantors. A senior officer commented that due to the lack of coordination and myopic vision, similar/parallel databases were being developed using millions of rupees of public money by two different departments of the same government.

“It is mismanagement and a waste of money,” he added.

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According to the plan, the authorities concerned will hire technical consultants for pre-shipment and post-shipment inspection of the system in the light of tender and manufacturer specifications. They will also supervise installation. After installation, the executing agency (Punjab Forensic and Science Agency) will monitor this project.

PFSA will also supervise and review the progress of the project as per procurement and implementation of the plan. It will also ensure the purchase of AFIS is made according to provision of PPRA Rules 2014.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2017.

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