By Christophe Champod; et al
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Additional resources for Fingerprints and other ridge skin impressions
As Bertillon (1912) rightly pointed out, the examiner should in fact be more focused on dissimilarities than on concordances. When no significant differences (the concept of significant being defined by the tolerances obtained from the analysis stage) have been noted between the mark and the print, the value of the match has to be assessed. The concept of identification is closely related to the selectivity of the features at the various levels, taking into account the level of tolerance set initially.
It is a jump, an extrapolation, based on the observation of highly variable traits among a few characteristics, and then considering the case of many characteristics. Duplication is inconceivable to the rational mind and we conclude that there is absolute identity. The leap, or extrapolation, occurs (in fingerprinting) without any statistical foundation, even for the initial process where the first few ridge details are compared. The conclusion of certainty derives from the examiner’s personal conviction that the chance of a match between the crime mark and any person other than X is so small that it can be ignored.
This point of view was largely followed by Bridges (1963), the FBI (Anon. 1972), and Olsen (1978), and then by the whole profession. ) (Anon. 1979). Identification, according to the IAI, can only be negative, impossible, or certain. This resolution opened the way for a large debate (Champod 1995) before it was revised and accepted at the annual IAI meeting in Ottawa, ON, in 1980 (Anon. 1980). At this meeting, the IAI experts rejected the idea of using fingerprints as corroborative evidence in the following terms (Resolution VII Amended or Resolution V): [The delegates of the IAI] state unanimously that friction ridge identifications are positive, and officially oppose any testimony or reporting of possible, probable or likely friction ridge identifications found on hands and feet.