Feeds

Scientists force confessions from mucky fingerprints

No more clean getaways

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Wannabe criminals would do well to listen to their dear old ma's and wash their hands regularly, or PC Plod will be knocking on the door in double quick time*.

According to boffins at London's Imperial College, minute traces of chemicals are left behind in our fingerprints that could be very useful to police trying to track down a suspect.

The technique could help investigators find out about the crims' diet and race, the scientists claim, as well as identifying traces of dodgy items like explosives, narcotics, and so on.

In addition, the researchers say relatively large quantities of urea in the residue indicate that the fingerprints are from a man. Smaller traces indicate a woman. [Or someone who shakes hands with lots of men perhaps. Like the Queen? Ed]

Conventional fingerprint collection tends to destroy the tiny traces of chemicals we leave behind every time we touch something. But the researchers at Imperial found that using an ordinary gelatine based tape allowed them to lift and preserve this chemical fingerprint.

The prints are then analysed in a spectroscopic microscope to reveal the particular chemical profile associated with the print.

Research leader Professor Sergei Kazarian says the work could help investigators working on difficult cases like arson, where fingerprints are particularly hard to lift.

"By focusing on what is left in a fingerprint after periods of time, scientists could potentially gauge how old a crime scene is. Studying what happens to prints when they are exposed to high temperatures could also be particularly significant," he said.

Kazarian says he sees a role for the technique in the courtrooms of the future. At the time of press he could not be reached for further comment on the precision of identification that the chemicals could provide, and how researchers would distinguish between substances a person had excreted, vs external contamination.

*It probably wouldn't help, We're talking tiny traces here. Sorry. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
Volcanic eruption in Iceland triggers CODE RED aviation warning
Lava-spitting Bárðarbunga prompts action from Met Office
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
Major cyber attack hits Norwegian oil industry
Statoil, the gas giant behind the Scandie social miracle, targeted
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?