Monday, August 22, 2005

Hong Kong Fingerprinting: State of the Art in 1904

One more tidbit from the Police Captain Superintendent's report worthy of record is his noting that a revolutionary new technique was being implemented in police records: fingerprinting. The Captain Superintendent writes:

"In April, 1904, shortly after my return from leave, I introduced into the Gaol Mr. HENRY's system of taking finger prints of all criminals before discharge. Finger prints of persons who are banished from the Colony, or passed through here on banishment from the Straits Settlements or elsewhere are also taken, by the detective staff, and added to the collection. On the 31st December 1905, the collection numbered 3,514 male records and 212 female.

Since October, 1904 the finger prints of all persons arrested for criminal offenses have been taken by police at time of arrest, for the purpose of detecting previous convictions. The old system of taking the prisoners into the gaol to see whether the warders could recognize them has been continued concurrently. By means of the finger prints I identified during the year 123 persons as being old offenders..."


fred said...

It'll never catch on.

Dave and Stefan said...

Apparently of the 123 criminals that had been 'fingered', 27 of them would have not been detected as repeat offenders without the system.

What a great idea that was!

Dave and Stefan said...

Episodes of CSI: Hong Kong 1905 would have been very short.