Biometric technology is becoming an integral element of law enforcement system. Despite the variety of forms, all biometric solutions are represented within one technological framework which is usually referred to as the means of “automated identification, or verification of identity through physiological, or behavioral traits” (Coleman, 1999).
Biometric systems of suspect identification are actively used in various law enforcement procedures; these technologies have proved their effectiveness and reliability in all crime prevention activities. Biometric technologies and human analytical abilities go hand in hand, and compete to achieve excellent crime prevention results.
However, even despite the significant benefits biometric technologies offer to law enforcement professionals, serious ethical issues should be addressed to make biometrics safe in use. Thesis statement: biometrics has turned into the indispensable technological element of crime prevention, but future effectiveness of biometric solutions will be threatened, if specialists fail to address significant privacy and security gaps that currently exist in the area of biometric technology use.
Biometric technology and the need to use biometrics in crime prevention
Crime prevention cannot be effective without identification. Identification is the essential element of all crime prevention and law enforcement procedures.
Contemporary technological advances, the development of internet-related crimes and terrorist threats require creating and implementing the whole set of new technological solutions. In crime prevention, “everything else is ultimately secondary to the need to identify” (Nieto, 2002). That is why biometrical systems of crime prevention are constantly improved to guarantee cost-effectiveness and relevance of crime prevention activities.
Current network of law enforcement agencies cannot develop an effective infrastructure that would guarantee safe and effective storage of information. The importance of biometric identification is justified by the need to create a relevant, cost-effective and secure data storage system that would not infringe citizen rights but would guarantee speedy and easy identification of suspects.
As a result, biometrics is gradually turning into a real industry, with law enforcement serving its target market. Face recognition, iris scan, and fingerprints identification software are the results of the thorough analytical work that are successfully implemented at all stages of crime prevention. As software manufacturers are fighting for their portion of law enforcement market, they are trying to offer more relevant biometric solutions that will meet the challenging requirements of the difficult criminal situation.
“What biometrics offers now and in the future is the possibility of improving the overall ‘clear-up’ rate of crime, therefore increasing the confidence of the public in the system and their overall sense of security in society” (Nieto, 2002). In simpler terms, better biometric technology is the direct pathway towards security, public awareness about the benefits of biometrics in law enforcement, and better citizen acceptance and recognition of various types of identification software.
Biometric applications satisfy the widest range of crime prevention needs, starting with face recognition and up to voice recognition and border control. In the contemporary context, face recognition, fingerprints, and iris scan represent the three most widely used types of biometric solutions. “No two fingerprints are alike. For this reason, law enforcement and the courts recognize fingerprints as unique personal identifiers” (Jain, Bolle, & Pankanti, 1998).
Human analytical skills are too limited to identify the differences between fingerprints and to convert this information into the instrument of coordinating crime prevention procedures. Fingerprints require special technological approach; the smallest pores and ridges on the human skin should be detected to guarantee the relevance of investigation (and as a result, crime prevention) results.
Iris scan and face recognition require similar technological approaches. Thus, the state cannot neglect the importance of biometric technologies in its striving towards minimizing the number of crimes. Biometrics forms excellent combination between human analytical abilities and unbiased technology’s ability to identify, match, and analyze personal biometric information.