On this day in history : 13th September 1902 – Burglar Harry Jackson is the first man to be convicted in Britain using fingerprint evidence….


The 41-year-old labourer had broken into a property in Denmark Hill, London and had stolen a set of billiard balls…. The investigating officer noticed a set of fingerprints on the newly painted windowsill – and had called in the newly-formed Metropolitan Police Fingerprint Bureau…. On searching their files they came across Jackson’s prints – as he had recently served a prison term for another burglary…. He was arrested, tried at the Old Bailey and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment….

Whilst fingerprinting became recognised as a valuable forensic tool in the identification of criminals, there were those in the beginning who disapproved…. A letter to The Times, signed by ‘A Disgusted Magistrate’ said “Scotland Yard, once known as the World’s finest police organisation, will be the laughing stock of Europe if it insists on trying to trace criminals by odd ridges on their skins”….

Fingerprint livescan.Birmingham central custody suite.
Fingerprint livescan. Birmingham central custody suite – West Midlands Police – CC BY SA 2.0

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