NT fingerprints in Central America

12 March 2013
Northern Territory Police Fingerprint Expert, Senior Constable Steve Crocker recently had the honor to address Forensic Science Students in Costa Rica.
1.	Senior Constable Steve Crocker awarded his INECCRIF membership with Dr. Boris C Castillo and the University Faculty of Law and Science Director, Rosa Granados.
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A sailing cruise through the Neotropic region of the Caribbean/Central America culminated in a visit by Senior Constable Steve Crocker to the Universidad Latinoamericana De Ciencia Y Technologia (University of Science and Technology, San Jose, Costa Rica).

“We sailed on a beautiful Windjammer, the SEA CLOUD II, from Curacao in the Dutch Antilles, to Aruba, Colombia, Panama, finally disembarking in Costa Rica”, Senior Constable Crocker said.

Prior to leaving, Steve had been in correspondence with Dr. Boris Castillo, a retired, Costa Rican Supreme Court Fingerprint Expert, now lecturer in Criminalistics at the University. On hearing of the planned visit to his city, Dr Castillo invited his antipodean counterpart to present a lecture to his forensic science students. Dr Castillo is highly regarded in international fingerprint circles and he is currently on the International Training Committee for the International Association for Identification (IAI) – the top professional body for Identification Sciences Worldwide.

The audience consisted of Dr. Castillo, about 30 of his students, or ‘estudiantes’ as they are locally known. Also present was a Supreme Court Judge, and the Director of the University’s Faculty of Law and Science. The University is in the process of devising their own course content for Forensic Science, so were keen to find out how things are done in Australia.

Senior Constable Crocker explained, “No hablo Espanola, so the talk was translated as we went. The students all knew of Australia but not so much of the Top End, until I threw in a Crocodile Dundee reference and obvious nods of recognition took place”.

Some of the topics covered included fingerprint history in Australia, Computerisation, Livescan, techniques used at scenes and the comparison process and how evidence is presented at Court. Identifications within Australian jurisdictions do not require a fixed minimum number of points to conclude a match, with each print considered on its quantity and clarity. The Costa Ricans are hindered to some degree by still operating under a minimum 12-point rule. This conservative approach would see a lot of possible offenders not reported on, if say only 10 or 11 points were matched. This topic was of much interest to the Supreme Court Judge.

The lecture was extremely well received and as a token of appreciation Senior Constable Crocker was presented with international membership into the Central American Forensic Organisation: INECCRIF. (Instituto Euroamericano De Ciencias Criminalisticas Y Forenses). “I was presented with my membership and informed I was now INNECCRIF’s Australian representative. I thought this was a lovely gesture. I have been asked to participate in teleconferences and will even be invited to future annual conferences”, said Senior Constable Crocker.

INECCRIF conferences are hosted by one of the member countries, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama or Costa Rica.

This international arrangement is something Senior Constable Crocker looks forward to progressing in the future.

“Its certainly a great opportunity not only for my own professional advancement, but I found it rewarding to be able to directly assist our overseas law enforcement colleagues in what some would say, the lesser advanced countries (forensically speaking).”