Fingerprints not reliable evidence, report says

October 2017

Fingerprints left at crime scenes should not be considered accurate enough to link a single person to a crime scene, a new report from the American Association for the Advancement of Science says.

William Thompson, professor of criminology, law and society, was part of the panel that wrote the report.

Latent fingerprints, which are collected from crime scenes, have been used as courtroom evidence for decades. But there is little certainty that a set of fingerprints can reliably point to the right person, according to the report. Inaccurate findings can lead to false convictions.

"We have concluded that latent print examiners should avoid claiming that they can associate a latent print with a single source and should particularly avoid claiming or implying that they can do so infallibly, with 100% accuracy," the report says.

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