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the branch of criminalistics that studies the structure of fingerprints for the purposes of criminal identification, registration, and investigation.
The palm surface of the terminal phalanges of the fingers have relief lines (the so-called papillary lines) whose structure is caused by a series of pectinate ridges and striae of the skin. These lines form complex skin designs (arcs, loops, and whorls) that have the properties of individuality (the diverse aggregate of papillary lines forming the design of the fingerprint by their configuration, position, and relative arrangement is never repeated in another fingerprint), relative stability (the immutability of the outer structure of the fingerprint, which forms during fetal development and lasts throughout life and after death until the decomposition of the corpse), and restorative ability (papillary lines are restored in the original form after surface destruction of the skin cover). These properties make possible criminal identification by fingerprints observed at the scene of the crime, ascertainment with the aid of dactyloscopic registration of a previous criminal record, identification of an unidentified corpse, investigation of missing persons, and establishment of the fact of commission of several crimes by the same individual or of a single crime by several individuals. In the USSR dactyloscopic registration is done on special ten-finger dactyloscopic charts, in which fingerprints of the criminal offenders are entered according to a certain system along with information such as name, patronymic, and surname, year and place of birth, and special identifying features. Dactylopscopic identification uses the methods and means worked out in criminalistics for finding and printing fingerprints and for comparing them subsequently with the fingerprints of individuals suspected of committing a crime or with the corresponding dactyloscopic charts.
REFERENCESKriminalistika. Moscow, 1963. Pages 206–21, §§79–83.
A. I. VINBERG