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the methods and means used in crime prevention and detection to file identifying characteristics of objects and persons and to preserve and organize information on objects and persons.
The information required for criminal records is usually compiled in card files; physical objects may also be collected for future examination and reference. The data contained in criminal records are used by the agencies of investigation and of the court in the identification of objects and the search for suspects. Criminal records are compiled for criminals, persons held in custody, missing persons, unidentified bodies, animals, inanimate objects, and facts concerning crimes. Criminal records of people are filed according to questionnaire data, physical characteristics, and fingerprint patterns.
Material evidence available from criminal records includes fingerprints, bullets and cartridge cases found at the scenes of unsolved crimes, stolen and confiscated articles, and stolen, confiscated, and recovered firearms.