Forensic Identification Services

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Forensic Identification Services


The Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) Section is responsible for maintaining and operating a computerized fingerprint search and storage system. The system used at FIS assists fingerprint examiners and other users with the capture, search and storage of both crime scene and charged person finger and palm prints.

Finger and palm prints of charged persons are captured using a Livescan system which uses a laser scanning device that replaces ink. These scanned fingerprints are then sent electronically from police divisions across Toronto to FIS, and then on to external police agencies after descriptors and mugshots are merged with the Intellibook booking system. Information is provided to our booking system by our records management occurrence processing software (Versadex). This allows the booking officers to import data of the charged person to the booking software, adding mugshots and fingerprints, then submitting the complete booking electronically to the AFIS. The AFIS is a real-time identification system (RTID), allowing for the examination of fingerprints taken from charged persons and compared to known offender databases with results returned electronically to the police division booking the person.

Forensics officer reviews fingerprint evidence

The Toronto Police Service was the first agency in Canada to go to real-time fingerprint identification in 2005. The accompanying palm database was also the first established in Canada, allowing palms to be searched, and was proved very successful.

The AFIS Section is staffed by civilian fingerprint examiners who, when fully trained and qualified, are responsible for presenting expert fingerprint identification evidence in a court of law. Under the authority of the Identification of Criminals Act, the fingerprints (and palm prints) are taken of every person charged with an indictable offence by the Toronto Police Service. These records form extensive databases which allow FIS to provide:

  • Prompt searching of fingerprints of charged persons to determine their identity and whether or not the person has any previous record with the Toronto Police Service or any other police agency in Canada. The results of such a search may reveal that the person has falsely identified themselves to the police.
  • The possible identity of fingerprints taken from unknown deceased persons.
  • Examination and identification of latent finger/palm prints found at the scene of a crime. These found latent prints are searched against databases of known prints and unsolved crime scene latent prints. Crime scene latent prints which are not identified are stored on the unsolved latent print database and are compared to every new set of arrestee prints entered into the system.

Forensics officer reviews fingerprint evidence

Beyond local and national searching capabilities, fingerprint examiners can also initiate international fingerprint searches via the RCMP and Interpol, often resulting in charged persons being identified as known in foreign countries. Fingerprint examiners also manually compare crime scene fingerprints with persons of interest when requests are submitted by investigative units and divisions.

Forensics officers review fingerprint evidence

Fingerprint examiners of the AFIS Section made over 5,000 crime scene identifications in 2019. To date, there are over 130,000 crime scene prints and over 909,000 arrestee ten-print records (that's over 9,090,000 single fingerprints) in the AFIS database.