In this concluding part of his narrative, Daniel Uwaezuoke recounts his first overseas training experience at the West Riding Police Headquarters in Wakefield, Yorkshire and, years later, at the Scotland Yard Fingerprint School in Chelsea, London under the fingerprint expert, Chief Inspector Bateman…
Courses of Study in the U.K.
In my autobiography, Destined to Triumph, I fleetingly mentioned my courses of study in the U. K. But as these courses spanned the 20-year period I spent at the Central Criminal Registry, it would be apt to give it some more attention in this new narrative.
The first course I attended was at the West Riding Police Headquarters in Wakefield, Yorkshire, England. It was a course meant for beginners in the study of fingerprints. So, one could easily appreciate why, as a searcher of about five years’ experience, I found it very basic in the duration of just over four weeks it lasted.
Nevertheless, I improved my skills on how to handle objects found at scenes of crime. Practically, we – the students – were co-opted into Scene of Crime teams to enable our on-the-spot learning.
One Mr Osborne, who took us through the course contents, was a very understanding man. I watched how he devoted time to patiently explain knotty fingerprint characteristics to beginners. I remember how he reacted most politely and thankfully when I chipped in my own way of explanation to help basic students mostly from the U. K. (Yorkshire) Police Forces. In Nigeria, I only gained the limited respect of the “Have-beens” and nothing more to show or gain from it.
My second course of study saw me passing through the Scotland Yard Fingerprint School in Chelsea, London. It was in Spring 1963. The lecturer, who taught students from across the world and the U. K. Police Forces, was Chief Inspector Bateman. All his teachings were based on a very comprehensive book, written by Frederick R. Cherrill (M. B. E.).
In fact, Chief Inspector Bateman was so adept in the study of fingerprints that the author of The Fingerprint System at Scotland Yard acknowledged him as his colleague. A scan through the course scripts, both basic and advanced, which Chief Inspector Bateman used in his day-to-day teachings, reveals their complementarity with the contents of Mr F. Cherrill’s book.
It took Chief Inspector Bateman not more than a week to begin to show special appreciation of my grasp of what fingerprints was and how it should always be second to none as a means of identification.
To our Maker – the Creator of the universe – belongs this unmatchable identity, which can tell a man’s identity from any of the billion others within a few seconds. With the present technology, machines can do this within a few seconds. Experts such as yours truly, who need to classify and go to an area of search in any given lot – be in it billions – can take minutes depending on the classification of the ten fingers or in a single finger mark as its single classification permits.
Chief Inspector Bateman, in one of his frequent outbursts of appreciation of my grasp of fingerprints, told me that I just “came to England in a jolly ride… because I find nothing to teach you.”
I retorted that I still had a lot to learn from the famous Scotland Yard Chief Inspector.
Throughout the duration of the course, which lasted almost two months, the chief inspector took me more as a special student from Nigeria and mentioned that to his recollection no overseas student had shown such a brilliant understanding of fingerprint like me.
I would rather not go into further details of the affection my teacher had for me. But I remember that the Spring of 1963 was only 15 months to early Winter 1964 when I became an assistant superintendent of police.
What then could Chief Inspector Bateman have written about me that added to the Comedy of Events?
-Sir Daniel, 92, lives in Enugu