MORPHO South Africa has officially handed over the P30 million Automated Finger Print System (AFIS) project to the Botswana Police Service.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Defence and Security, Bruce Palai, commended the new system as “being the first of its kind in Africa in terms of level of sophistication”.
This state-ofÔÇôthe art system is a computerized fingerprint database that facilitates the storage of thousands to millions fingerprint records in electronic form as well as the searching and processing of such fingerprints.
The AFIS has a storage capacity of 750,000 persons including fingerprints, palm prints and mug shots and up to 100,000 crime scene marks.
Palai said the government invested in the project with the realization that the ever increasing complexities of modern day policing require equally matching capabilities for effectiveness.
“The introduction of the automated fingerprint system will strengthen the case for the need to embrace science and technology in the combat of crime in general, including transnational organized crime,” he said.
Palai noted that already there are pleasing indications of the positive impact of the system on crime fighting efforts.
“In the few months since AFIS went live in Septenber2009, 177 criminal cases have already been solved,” he said, adding that other services, like on ÔÇôthe ÔÇôspot background checks, fingerprint clearance for employment and for further studies will be greatly enhanced by this system.
Of the 67 installations at police stations, 17 are in the form of live scans, which is equipment that allows direct acquisition of fingerprints without the need for ink or paper.
Fifteen portable AFIS devices, known as RAPIDs, which provide for on the spot searching of finger prints during police operations, have also been distributed to operatives.
Also 53 MorphoEVA CardScans have been deployed across Botswana and there are 8 more to be deployed once the infrastructure is ready.
Police Commissioner Thebeyame Tsimako said as per provisions of the project, MORPHO has managed to train 63 operators, 9 fingerprint experts and 6 system administrators. He said they had also managed to convert all the existing fingerprint records and mug shots to electronic form.
Tsimako said BPS is currently engaged in interfacing the AFIS system with crime and criminal recording system so as to attain synchronization of demographic data with biometric data. He revealed that BPS has also received requests for interfacing with other key stakeholders, such as the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
Tsimako further said that services that are offered by BPS have been decentralized as they can now offer police clearances at local police stations around Botswana, which saves transport costs and time. He continued saying even the waiting periods for results and feedback to customers experienced in the past will be reduced significantly.
“It will now take the police three days to provide courts with records of previous convictions instead of three weeks,” he said.
The system is housed at the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB), which is a unit within the Forensic Science Services branch.