UK Police Use Fingerprint Biometrics to Identify Drug Dealer from WhatsApp Message

In what may be a world’s first, police in Wales have used fingerprint biometrics collected from a WhatsApp picture of a hand holding drugs to help bust up a dealing operation, reports BBC News.UK Police Use Fingerprint Biometrics to Identify Drug Dealer from WhatsApp Message

The dealers appear to have been using the messaging app as an important component of their operation, taking advantage of the anonymity it affords in order to sell illicit substances online. But in one picture, part of one of the dealer’s fingerprints was visible, which South Wales Police investigators sent to their science lab for biometric examination.

It wasn’t the biometric scanning that sealed the drug dealers’ fates: There wasn’t enough of the fingerprint in the image to connect its biometrics to a national database, and it was more conventional investigative work that led police to the family operation selling cannabis and ecstasy out of a house in the town of Bridgend. But speaking to the BBC, a police investigator said the biometrics helped to confirm the identity of one of the dealers when police closed in.

The officer says that officers are now actively searching through photographic evidence that might contain more biometric evidence ripe for analysis for other investigations.

While the application of facial recognition technology to photographic evidence, surveillance footage, and the like is increasingly common, the analysis of other biometrics like fingerprints is somewhat novel. But with biometric technologies becoming increasingly powerful, more of this kind of analysis can be expected.

Source: BBC News