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  5. Pioneering fingerprint technology is verified in court

Pioneering fingerprint technology is verified in court

Tuesday 25 April 2017

In a new paper published in the Royal Society of Chemistry's Analyst journal, BMRC staff have demonstrated that their analysis of a fingermark during an investigation into a case of harassment in West Yorkshire, corroborated the defendant's account.

Simona Francese

The researchers discovered traces of a unique molecule that only forms in the body when cocaine and alcohol are consumed at the same time, providing an insight into the criminal's state of mind at the time of committing the offence. While the cocaine abuse was confirmed by forensic tests, the defendant had denied alcohol consumption and only later admitted it prior to the court hearing.

Using Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionisation Mass Spectrometry Imaging and Profiling (MALDI-MSI and MALDI-MSP) we can test for traces of drugs, blood, hair and cleaning products and condom lubricants as well as other substances of forensic interest that will provide crime investigators with crucial background information about a criminal's activities prior to committing a crime.

Thanks to funding from the Home Office's Innovation Fund, the research team have been working with West Yorkshire Police to trial the technology. It is the first time a technology of this nature has been applied successfully and compatibly with current fingerprinting techniques, proving its feasibility to be adopted into standard forensic investigation policies.

MALDI-MSI, which is a powerful technology normally used to map different molecules within tissue sections, produces multiple images of fingermarks which are made up of materials from the surface of the skin and from gland secretions.

Dr Simona Francese, project lead and reader in Mass Spectrometry, said: 'This is an exciting development that demonstrates the efficiency of MALDI-based techniques to be used to provide additional intelligence to the police and forensic investigators.

'This is yet another step closer to our aim of getting this technology integrated into standard forensic procedures at scenes of crime across the country.'

West Yorkshire Police’s Regional Head of Identification Services, Neil Denison said: 'This research presents an exciting opportunity to enhance fingerprint capability beyond just identification and will help us to profile the lifestyle of the offender.'

Click here (PDF, 4.56 MB) to read the full article

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