Interpol fingers Aust for poor support

Crime fighter to link fingerprints to stolen passports

Interpol fingerprint unit head Mark Branchflower

Interpol fingerprint unit head Mark Branchflower

An Interpol chief has scolded Australian law enforcement for contributing "almost nothing" to the global fingerprint database used by 100 countries to track criminals across the world.

Interpol fingerprint unit head Mark Branchflower said Australia, together with Asian countries, contributed a meager 0.9 percent to the global quota of received fingerprints last year, despite that it uses the Interpol records to track criminals.

"Australia's contribution is very, very limited; it's almost non-existant," Branchflower said.

"All the fingerprint services are available in Canberra, but until recently it didn't have the data in its national [fingerprint] database."

Australia, unlike some of Interpol's 187 member countries, is compliant with international fingerprinting standards which had lead directly to international arrests in the UK and Canada of wanted persons with convictions in Australia, Branchflower said.

In one instance, a Victorian man convicted of rape was caught in Canada via Interpol's Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (sTLD) database several years after fleeing Australia on bail and emigrating to the UK under refugee status. Another man was wrongfully held and extridited from Mexico after non-standard, low-quality biometric data of a criminal was sent to Interpol.

The agency is pushing for integration with several existing and emerging criminal record networks, including the European Union's Schengen III and a Middle East database lead by Jordan to keep tabs on convicted terrorists, however it faces some contention, Branchflower says, with countries arguing some Interpol services are redundant given the emergence of the bloc-based networks.

Interpol logged some 1465 hits last year with 24 countries using its mobile interpol network database that allows law enforcement to check details from a laptop against local updated servers. Its fixed network accrued 412 hits from 71 countries last year.

The agency plans to integrate and expand its fingerprint and sTLD databases which includes 10 million passports and 17 million travel documents and is accessed by 145 countries.

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