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Digital fingerprinting gets thumbs up

The finger print is stored directly in a computer database Keystone

A new digital fingerprinting system in operation at Swiss border posts since the beginning of the year has been a success, according to officials.

Border guards say the new system has enabled them to speed up the identification of people entering Switzerland with a past criminal record.

“We are very satisfied with the system,” said Werner Schöni, deputy director of one of the border guard units at a press conference on Tuesday.

Of the 3,457 digital fingerprints taken between January and March, the guards were able to identify 1,591 people registered in police files and asylum records.

Some 57 asylum seekers who did not have the required documents to enter Switzerland or who tried to enter with forged identity papers were caught and forced to turn back.

Speedy tracking

Roland Gander, who heads up the digital unit at the Federal Police Office, said the speed of the system compared with tracking measures used in other European countries was something to be proud of.

Once the fingerprint is registered in a computer database, the border guards transfer it to Bern for further examination. The print is then compared with those already logged in police files in a matter of minutes.

About half of Swiss border posts are equipped with the digital system, which is also used in around 20 embassies.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR