What is NAFIS National Automated Fingerprint Identification System

What is NAFIS National Automated Fingerprint Identification System

The Union Home Minister has inaugurated the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS).

What is NAFIS?

  • NAFIS is developed by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) at the Central Fingerprint Bureau (CFPB) in New Delhi.
  • The project is a country-wide searchable database of crime- and criminal-related fingerprints.
  • The web-based application functions as a central information repository by consolidating fingerprint data from all states and Union Territories.
  • In April this year, Madhya Pradesh became the first state in the country to identify a deceased person through NAFIS.

Utility of NAFIS

  • It enables law enforcement agencies to upload, trace, and retrieve data from the database in real time on a 24×7 basis.
  • It would help in the quick and easy disposal of cases with the help of a centralised fingerprint database.

How does it work?

  • NAFIS assigns a unique 10-digit National Fingerprint Number (NFN) to each person arrested for a crime.
  • This unique ID will be used for the person’s lifetime, and different crimes registered under different FIRs will be linked to the same NFN.
  • The 2020 report states that the ID’s first two digits will be that of the state code in which the person arrested for a crime is registered, followed by a sequence number.
  • By automating the collection, storage, and matching of fingerprints, along with digitizing the records of fingerprint data, NAFIS will provide the much-needed unique identifier for every arrested person.
  • It will be included in the CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems) database as both are connected at the backend.

Is this the first time that such an automation project is being attempted?

  • Upon the recommendations of the National Police Commission in 1986, the Central Fingerprint Bureau first began to automate the fingerprint database.
  • It began with digitizing the existing manual records through India’s first Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFI) in 1992, called Fingerprint Analysis & Criminal Tracing System (FACTS 1.0).
  • The latest iteration, FACTS 5.0, which was upgraded in 2007, was considered to have “outlived its shelf life”, according to a 2018 report by the NCRB and thus needed to be replaced by NAFIS.

Since when has India relied on fingerprinting as a crime-fighting tool?

  • A system of fingerprinting identification first emerged in colonial India, where it was tested before it spread to Europe and beyond.
  • At first, it was used by British colonial officials for administrative rather than criminal purposes.
  • William Herschel, the chief administrator of the Hooghly district of Bengal, from the late-middle 1800s onwards, used fingerprinting to reduce fraud and forgeries.
  • It then aimed to ensure that the correct person was receiving government pensions, signing land transfer deeds, and mortgage bonds.
  • Anthropometry, the measurement of physical features of the body, was used by officials in India but was soon replaced with a system of fingerprints.

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NAFIS National Automated Fingerprint Identification