Innovation to help snare sex offenders

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A NEW technique has been developed which researchers in Sheffield say will help detectives track down sex offenders who use condoms in an attempt to evade capture.

Scientists at Sheffield Hallam University say the technique means forensic specialists will now be able to detect condom lubricant on fingermarks left at the scene of a sex crime.

Researchers at the university’s Biomedical Research Centre say there has been an increase in the use of condoms in sex attacks which is partly due to offenders wanting to avoid sexually transmitted disease but also because of fears they may leave DNA evidence behind.

The team says it is hoping the technique will eventually mean they can match lubricant found on suspects’ fingermarks with samples taken from victims.

It said it also hopes the technique can be developed in the future to identify specific condom brands and, therefore, help with offender profiling.

The study used MALDI-MSI – matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation mass spectrometry imaging – a powerful technology which can be used to map fingermark patterns.