NCIC stands for National Crime Information Center which is a centralized electronic criminal database system maintained by FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS). The system has 22 separate databases/files that store different information about crimes. One part of NCIC’s identification measures is NCIC Fingerprint Classification (FPC).
So, NCIC Fingerprint System is a classification method that uses a two-letter code for each pattern type. This makes twenty characters of string from a 10-digit fingerprint (one pattern type=two character).
History and Development of NCIC FPC
- The foundation of NCIC was led by the FBI in 1965, in searching for a centralized electronic criminal database.
- In 1967, the FBI officially introduced the NCIC which connects with 15 metropolitan cities and states five databases and more than 300k records.
- By 1972, all states are connected to this centralized system.
- The upgraded form was launched in 1999 as NCIC 2000.
- The database is accessible by criminal justice agencies in all 50 states and also in Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, and Canada.
- By 2011, 11.7 million active records were in the database.
- By 2022, NCIC has 22 databases with more than 17 million active records.
Need of NCIC Classification System
FBI wanted to develop a network and database of criminals and with that in mind they start working on creating a National Crime Information Center (NCIC) in 1965.
The main goal is to develop a criminal database to not only identify criminals but also define their past records. So, if a suspect’s prints are found in NCIC that means he/she has a past criminal record.
This not only protects law enforcement personnel but also the public from individuals who are threats to society.
With help of the NCIC Fingerprint system, the criminal justices system is able to:
- Individualize criminals
- Find missing individuals
- Recover stolen property
- Identify threats both nationally and internationals (among accessible countries).
- Background checks and other duties related to criminals.
List of NCIC Files/Databases
By 2022, there are 22 NCIC databases/files. They are broadly divided into two categories: (1) Property files and (2) Person Files
|Property Database/Files||Person Database/Files|
|Stolen articles||Supervised Release|
|Boats||National Sex Offender Registry|
|License plates||Immigration Violator|
|Vehicles||Extreme Risk Protection Order|
|Known or Suspected Terrorist|
|National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Denied Transaction|
How Fingerprints are Classified using NCIC Classification System?
The classification process is very simpler than the Henry classification system as it uses simpler rules.
NCIC FPC is unique as it doesn’t include the actual images of fingerprints but only a 20-digit code.
For classification, you only need to know the types of fingerprints, and how to calculate ridge tracing and counting values. Based on that you have to assign respective characters or values.
In 20 character string :
- Numbers represent ridge counting or tracing value
- Characters represent pattern type.
- Values start from Right Hand (Right thumb to right little finger)
- Values Go to Left Hand (Left thumb to left little finger)
So, the NCIC fingerprint value for a person contains an alphanumeric 20-digit string based on their pattern type and subgroups from the right thumb to the left little finger.
The generated 20 alphanumeric digit code is then classified based on the pattern types and then stored in the NCIC FPC database.
NCIC Fingerprint Classification Groups
There are 4 groups and their subgroup’s symbols that are used to generate a 20-character string of fingerprint code.
Group A: Arches
Group B: Whorls (Ridge Trace Value)
- Central Pocket Loop Whorl
- Double Loop Whorl
- Accidental Whorl
Value for Ridge Tracing of Whorls:
-> Meet (M) = 0, 1, or 2 ridges inside or outside the right delta.
-> Inner (I) = 3 or more inside the right delta.
-> Outer (O) = 3 or more outside the right delta.
Group C: Loops (Ridge Count)
- Ulnar Loop= Actual ridge count (01 to 49)
- Radial Loop= Actual Ridge count +50 (51to 99)
Group D: Other
NCIC Fingerprint Classification Table
|NCIC Pattern Group||Pattern Type||NCIC Code|
|Whorls||Plain Whorl (Inner)||PI|
|Plain Whorl (Meet)||PM|
|Plain Whorl (Outer)||PO|
|Central Pocket Loop Whorl (Inner)||CI|
|Central Pocket Loop Whorl (Meet)||CM|
|Central Pocket Loop Whorl (Outer)||CO|
|Double Loop Whorl (Inner)||dI|
|Double Loop Whorl (Meet)||dO|
|Double Loop Whorl (Outer)||dM|
|Accidental Whorl (Inner)||XI|
|Accidental Whorl (Meet)||XO|
|Accidental Whorl (Outer)||XM|
|Loops||Ulnar Loop (ridge count)||01-49|
|Radial Loop (ridge count)||51-99|
Calculate NCIC Fingerprint Value With Example
Following is the example to calculate the NCIC fingerprint value from a 10-digit fingerprint.
|Rt Thumb (1)||Rt Index (2)||Rt Middle(3)||Rt Ring (4)||Rt Little (5)|
|Radial Loop (18)||Whorl (M)||Ulnar Loop (11)||Tented Arch||Accidental Whorl (O)|
|Lt Thumb (6)||Lt Index (7)||Lt Middle (8)||Lt Ring (9)||Lt Little (10)|
|Ulnar Loop (17)||Plain Arch||Whorl (M)||Whorl (I)||Ulnar Loop (12)|
Using Value from NCC Fingerprint Table:
NCIC Value= 68PM11TTXO17AAPMPI12
NCIC FPC Vs Henry Fingerprint Classification
NCIC Fingerprint Classification system much more easlier and less complex than Henry system. This is based on the the fact that you don’t only have to know the types of fingerprint but also the specific rules in various division in Henry fingerprint system.
On the other hand, you only need to know about the types of fingerprint types and ridge tracing and counting values.
|NCIC Fingerprint System||Henry Fingerprint System|
|A Criminal database system||Used by various authentication means|
|No fingerprint images in the database.||Fingerprint images are also included in database.|
|Easy and Less complex||A Complex system|
|Divided into 4 major groups||Divided into 6 major divisions and 3 extensions|
|20 alphanumeric strings as a final NCIC Code||A complex arrangement of values based on specific divisions and extensions.|
|Simpler rules for each group/file.||Rules changes based on specific division and extension.|
Disadvantages of NCIC Fingerprint Classification
- It may not always be correct.
- No fingerprint image to compare with the live sample.
- Human Input error may cause false results during searching/adding to the database.
- If fingerprints on a crime scene found to be a loop, there is no way to know which hand it is originated from (as ulnar and radial loop depends on which hand it originates from) using the database alone.
- Not possible to classify into formulas any individual fingerprint pattern found at the crime scene.
- Health, U. S., 1993, The Annual National Report on Health, By DIANE Publishing Company [Link]
- Contrast- An Investigator’s Basic Reference Guide to Fingerprint Identification Concepts By Craig A. Coppock [Link]
- Systems of Friction Ridge Classification. In The Fingerprint Sourcebook by Hutchins, L. 2011.
- Federal Bureau of Investigation [CJIS]
FR Author Group at ForensicReader is a team of Forensic experts and scholars having B.Sc, M.Sc or Ph.D. degrees in Forensic Science. We published on topics on fingerprints, questioned documents, forensic medicine, toxicology, physical evidence, and related case studies. Know More.