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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

ANTHROPOMETRY                                                        49

house of a doctor in the small hours of May 5, 1929, the "burglars were arrested
and convicted from the finger impressions left by them on the broken glass
panes of the sky-lights through which they effected entrance into the room.50

The London Police have devised a system, by which finger prints can be
sent by cable or wireless telegraphy to all parts of the world. In this system
the various arches, whorls and loops are described by index letters and figures.
At the receiving bureau the finger prints can be reconstructed in five minutes.
In one case the finger prints thus sent to New York enabled a counterfeiter,
who had escaped while on bail, to be identified, and in another case a man
detained by the London Police was believed to be wanted by the Chicago
Police and his finger prints were taken and sent by wireless to the United
States.

Fugitives know full well that as long as their finger prints are on the files
of the Criminal Investigation Department they cannot hope to avoid detection
by merely adopting aliases and changing their bases of operation. Hence they
sometimes attempt to mutilate the patterns by inflicting injuries, such as
wounds or burns, on the bulbs of their fingers, but they forget that the resul-
tant scars do not necessarily obliterate the patterns, as there will still exist
definite delineations, unless the true skin is completely destroyed.

In the case of criminals and emigrants, and in the case of persons in sub-
ordinate Government service—both civil and military—while preparing their
service books and pension papers, impressions of all the ten fingers are taken,
but for the purpose of identification while giving a medical certificate and for
other civil purposes the left thumb impression only is taken.

The police are required to take the finger prints of an unidentified corpse,
or of a person whose identity has not been established by ordinary enquiries
and who has died in an accident, or under suspicious circumstances, or in the
commission of a crime. Ordinarily there is not much difficulty in taking
impressions from the fingers of a corpse, but it is sometimes difficult to obtain
decipherable prints in a body, which has far advanced hi decomposition. In
such cases the police should request the medical officer holding the post-
mortem examination to remove the skin from the bulbs of the fingers. The
medical officer should pack each piece in a separate envelope marking on the
outside the finger to which it belongs. For the Uttar Pradesh, these enve-
lopes should then be sent to the Finger Print Bureau at Allahabad for
opinion.

It must be remembered that impressions of the ridge patterns left on the
dermis can be used for identifying a dead body after the epidermis of the
finger tips has been shed through putrefaction. The inner surface of the skin
which has come off like a glove especially in a drowned body that has under-
gone putrefactive changes can also be used for the purpose of identification.
On the other hand, in a decomposed body where the skin is hard, contracted
and wrinkled, impressions of the ridge patterns can be obtained by soaking
the fingers in a weak solution of caustic alkali to make them swell up, but
the impressions thus obtained are not usually sharply defined: hence it is
advisable to take a photograph of the ridge patterns after they are restored to
their normal state.

Faint and invisible finger prints can be rendered quite clear and distinct
by dusting them with some fine, impalpable powder. They can then be
examined with a lens or enlarged permanently as a photograph.51 If the
finger prints are on paper or a light-coloured surface, graphite (plumbago)
or lamp black is used. If the prints are on glass or a dark-coloured surface,

50.   Lahore High Court Criminal Appeal No. 1168 of 1929, King-Emperor v. Sardara;
31 Criminal Law Jour., Sept. 1930, p. 877.

51.   J. G. Garson, Trans, of the Medico-Legal Soc., VoL H 1904-1905, p. 115.