Modern technologies allow forensic scientists to find out more of what lies in the fingerprints – person’s habits, food he/she ate just before the crime was committed, and even more.
According to the scientists from Sheffield Hallam University, fingerprints hold much more information and in future may reveal more possibilities for crime investigation.
The project lead, Dr Simona Francese, of Sheffield Hallam University, says that:
"Fingerprinting is still a very successful process.
"However there are many instances where the fingerprint isn't good enough for suspect identification. For example, if it smudges, or if the fingerprints aren't present on the database.
To find out more about the fingerprints, the scientists of this project use mass spectroscopy to find traces of various substances on the print. This method vaporizes the sample, after that they fire it through electric and magnetic fields. This allows to find various particles, as they behave differently in such conditions.
According to Dr Francese, proteins in such marks can tell whether the suspect is a male or a female, whether the person was taking drugs or just dealing with them. Moreover, they can determine the ingested substances, this may all lead to the lifestyle of person and their activities.
This technology actually provides extra proof for police and extra links that help them to find possible suspects.
In the past, according to head of regional identification services, at West Yorkshire Police, Neil Denison, you were able to find out whether the print you found matches with the prints in the database or the prints of the suspect, or not. “Now even if we don't identify a fingerprint we can find out information about the habits of the individual who has left that mark behind at the crime scene," he adds.
This technique is rather expensive, according to Denison, and it will be most probably used for major cases rather than domestic burglaries.
"Criminals are getting better at what they do, and we need to keep up with them. And this is just one way we might improve the way we use fingerprints, and ultimately prevent and detect crime."