HC Deb 09 February 1891 vol 350 cc197-8
MR. PARKER SMITH (Lanark, Partick)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has had his attention called to the Bertillon Anthropometric System, now in use in France, for registering and identifying prisoners, and thus easily detecting previously arrested persons; and whether he has considered the ad- visability and practicability of applying such a system to this country? I should like to mention that this question stood on the Paper in the name of Mr. Bradlaugh a day or two before his death.


Yes, Sir; the French system has for some time been the subject of discussion between myself and the Prison and Police Authorities. There are various objections to the introduction of that system as a whole, and the French police have powers over prisoners which the police do not possess in this country. I have inserted a clause in a Penal Servitude Bill, of which I have given notice, giving power to take the measurement of prisoners, which is, perhaps, the most important element in the French system. I may add that the Commissioner of Police informs me that under our present system we have a larger percentage of identifications than the French system affords.