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Akira's got his Finger on the Pulse

A former chief at Tokyo Metropolitan Police has travelled all the way from Japan to witness the launch of a display dedicated to a vital crime-solving tool.

Akira Mitsuzane, who was the head investigator of murder and robberies, made the special trip to the Brampton Museum today to pay tribute to Dr. Henry Faulds who first proposed the potential use of fingerprinting in forensic work in 1880 which led to Japanese police adopting it in 1911.

The new display, situated in the Newcastle Lives gallery, highlights Dr. Faulds’ life and work. As well as fingerprinting equipment from Staffordshire Police and a book he wrote called “‘dactylography”, it includes a portrait plaque which was funded by Akira and members of the Tokyo police identification division to mark the centenary of fingerprinting in Japan. The plaque was intended to be installed at his family home in James Street, Wolstanton in 2011 but it was later donated to the museum.

Dr. Faulds, who was born in Scotland, realised that fingerprints are unique to an individual – and could be used to identify criminals – while carrying out an archaeological dig in Japan, during a medical mission, when he became aware of impressions in ancient ceramic fragments.

He offered the concept to Scotland Yard but was dismissed. Dr. Faulds held a lifelong belief, and some bitterness, that he had never received fair recognition for his work.

Dr. Faulds, who was a police surgeon, died in March 1930 aged 86 and is buried at St. Margaret’s Church in Wolstanton.

Mr. Mitsuzane, aged 70, said: “I am very honoured to be here today. Dr. Faulds is a pioneer of fingerprinting and is highly appreciated in Japan – his work has greatly helped our investigations. I’m pleased he is finally being recognised and that there is something to highlight him locally. What Dr. Faulds achieved will last forever.”

After the display was unveiled, Derek Newport, a retired chartered engineer who helped to retrieve the plaque, led a talk about Newcastle’s connection to the doctor. Copies of a commemorative tile designed and marketed by students from Newcastle-under-Lyme School are available to buy.

Akira Mitsuzane is pictured holding the portrait plaque with his wife Yumiko.


Last updated 24 May, 2018