This is day six of the A to Z Challenge. Wow, this first week has flown by in a blur.

English: Picture of an arch fingerprint patter...

English: Picture of an arch fingerprint pattern. Image source: NIST. Category:Fingerprints (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When it came to an F post I decided to go with another forensic technique. The good, old-fashioned FINGERPRINT.


  • Fingerprints are formed about 28 weeks after conception. These ridges stay with us for the rest of our lives, even surviving for some time after death. A useful tool in post-mortem identification;
  • No two fingerprints are identical.

From 1901, England and Wales (along with a host of English-speaking countries) adopted the fingerprint classification system developed by Sir Edward Richard Henry in the Metropolitan Police Fingerprint Bureau. Well over a century of analysis later and the fingerprint still plays an important role in evidence gathering from the scene of a crime.

In your crime writing the good old fingerprint shouldn’t be underestimated. As I mentioned in my DNA postย and Blood Analysis, the newer techniques are ground breaking, but people still leave prints. Be they, finger, palm or other prints such as an ear pressed against a window. All can be used by your Crime Scene Investigator or lead detective.

Prints fall under three main categories:

  • Loops – account for around 60 per cent of patterns;
  • Whorls – 35 per cent; and
  • Arches – account for the remaining 5 per cent.

Each of these three categories are broken down further and there is a whole host of variations in patterns: Radial and Ulnar Loops; Plain and Tented Arches; Central Pocket and Double-Loop Whorls amongst others. You can see why no two prints will be the same.

We’ve gone from ink and the ten-card of prints to digital scanning. And, over a century after they were widely introduced, you can now buy junior forensics kits for children including fingerprint analysis. Start ’em early ๐Ÿ™‚

In your crime fiction you could use one of the three types of prints.

  • Latent prints cannot be seen with the naked eye, but developed during the forensic development of your surface;
  • Visible prints, has your killer left a bloodied print or even the old man stealing your main protagonist’s car could have left a greasy print on the garage door;
  • Plastic prints are like negatives. Soft surfaces such as clay receive the impression of the print.

Many, many options to track your villain down.

Happy crime writing.



This is myย Fย post for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. A list of all my A to Z Blogging Challenge posts are to be foundย here.

My pictures today are from the Filey on the east coast of England. A lovely beach to sit back and enjoy the sea view!

Filey (2)

Filey (3)

About Pete Denton

I'm a writer working my way through the redrafts of a British crime novel. I also write short stories, flash fiction and some screen writing. Check out my blog for more.
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42 Responses to Fingerprints

  1. It’s so interesting, isn’t it? I mean, the little fingertip, with all that detail about who we are, and a reminder of each person’s uniqueness. Love the beach photos – I was in England and Wales last September and love it.

    • Pete Denton says:

      Thanks, Melissa. All part of the wonder that is us ๐Ÿ™‚

      We might only be a small island, but we do have some wonderful countryside and coastlines.

  2. I remember doing fingerprinting with the students one year but I had forgotten the categories. Great post!

  3. ocdreader says:

    I just had to get something notarized and they now have invisible ink for fingerprinting (which they have probably had for years I just didn’t know) and it was the coolest.
    An ear print…wow, I hadn’t thought of that. Would a greasy forehead print do anything ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Pete Denton says:

      Technology is great. A greasy forehead print would leave a smear on the glass! If they had a scar or distinguishing mark it could help identify someone.

  4. jadereyner says:

    Great post and really interesting. Still loving the theme! Is the A to Z challenge something that you came up with or is it something that you joined up to?

    • Pete Denton says:

      Thanks. I wish I’d dreamt up the A to Z Challenge. It’s been running for a few years now. There are nearly 2,000 bloggers taking part this year. Click one of the AtoZ Challenge pictures to go through to the official site.

  5. A very informative post. It’s a fascinating field. Happy F!

  6. DayDreamer says:

    Finger printing was used as far back as 1901? That’s interesting.

    I can almost smell the sea air from your photos.

    • Pete Denton says:

      I think the printing goes back further. From 1901 they established the bureau.

      The pictures take me back and I can almost smell the sea air. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Sue says:

    Here in Canada we have a tv show Murdoch’s Murders it’s historical and now takes place in 1900. He’s sort of a Sherlock Holmes character and they did have Holmes o the show once lol anyway Murdoch calls them finger marks, because not eveyone is doing this. Sorry for the mispellings … and great pics by the way

  8. mel says:

    I suddenly am wondering if there are people who aren’t born with fingerprints? They’d make the best criminals, and I imagine, to be bald too ;P Think this A-Z challenge is a great way to do research for the kind of writing one wants to do…I might try that approach next year ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. The coffee shop at our work actually has fingerprint recognition so the staff can get discounts on their purchases. It’s amazing what they come up with, isn’t it.

  10. M says:

    I had my fingerprints done with ink in 1981 for admittance into the credentialing program- you couldn’t have been arrested adn receive a credential. Then a few years ago I had to have it done all over again for a recreation class I was teaching…the new computer scan was interesting and I was cleared in after my last finger was scanned….so quick!

    Beautiful photos…I am ending my spring break at the beach right now!
    Happy A-Z April!

  11. Elaine says:

    Every fingertip, contains so much detail. An introduction only needs the contact of a finger, to identify the unique being – amazing. I loved your photographs of Filey too – I’ve never been there but I’m adding it to my list of must see places.

  12. noelleg44 says:

    Before fingerprints, police used precise body measurements. They once linked a crime to a man who was already in prison from the body measurements of a man who was found guilty of another crime – turned out to be his twin.

  13. jmmcdowell says:

    Not that I ever had any thoughts of committing a crime, but my prints are on file with the US government thanks to my company’s work as a federal contractor. I got the digital kind, so I didn’t have all that messy ink to deal with. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. shell flower says:

    Awesome information. Between your blog and Melissa Sugar’s this A-Z, I think I’m going to learn everything I need to write a crime thriller. I listened to the audiobook of Virals and it had kids doing fingerprint analysis, so I learned about the rare types of arch fingerprints there. I have to admit, I’ve been fingerprinted upon arrest in my protesting days.

  15. Joyce says:

    I recently learned that kids who have not gone through puberty do not leave prints because they do not produce oils. Their prints are made of water that will evaporate quickly leaving nothing. In other words, the movie, The Client, had a massive fingerprint fail. Unless of course that little twerp had been hormonal–I doubt it.

  16. Good, solid reporting. Nicely done and deeply informative. I just this past week visited the L.A. Police Museum here in Los Angeles and enjoyed seeing their latest display on the real Gangster Squad. But fingerprints were represented in the museum as well. Thanks for the insight.

  17. auntyamo says:

    Great stuff. I don’t write crime, but maybe Lizzy could become an 80s teenage sleuth : D


  18. Fascinating! Thanks for sharing! ๐Ÿ™‚

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