Sheffield scientists develop new fingerprint testing technology to help detectives crack cases

Sheffield scientists are working on new fingerprint testing technology which they hope will help detectives crack cases.

Wednesday, 11th October 2017, 10:05 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 04:55 am
Sheffield scientists are involved in a trial for new fingerprint testing technology

Technology is being developed by scientists from Sheffield Hallam University to provide an in-depth analysis of fingerprints found at crime scenes.

Prints can now be tested for traces of drugs, blood, hair, cleaning products and condom lubricants as well as other substances to provide detectives with background information about suspects.

Using Home Office's Innovation Fund money, the research team has been working with West Yorkshire Police to trial the technology.

Traditionally, fingerprints found at the scene of a crime are lifted after using a special powder to enhance them and are then compared with prints on a police database to identify a suspect.

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But now the prints can be analysed to provide background information on suspects to help detectives build up more information on their activities before they committed crimes.

Dr Simona Francese, project lead, said: "I would want to see this technology in high-profile cases such as murder or rape. It's very sophisticated, it's expensive but it's worthwhile.

"When you think about what a fingerprint is, it's nothing else but sweat and sweat is a biological matrix.

"It contains molecules from within your body but also molecules that you have just contaminated your fingertips with, so the amount of information there potentially to retrieve is huge."

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.”