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New technique to help catch sexual offenders: Scientists detect condom lubricant on fingermarks for the first time

Posted: February 4th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , | Comments Off on New technique to help catch sexual offenders: Scientists detect condom lubricant on fingermarks for the first time

A new technique that's able to detect condom lubricants in fingerprints may offer law enforcement personnel and prosecutors new ways to establish the presence of a suspect in an alleged sexual assault. The technique, developed at Sheffield Hallam University, uses MALDI-MSI (matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation mass spectrometry imaging), a technology used to map fingerprint ridge patterns, and is able to detect lubricant in fingermarks that have been left for several weeks before analysis.

"Offenders are increasingly aware of forensic issues and it is common now for condoms to be used and removed from the scene of a sexual assault," Dr. Simona Francese said. "If condom lubricant can be detected in fingermarks it would improve the evidence for the prosecution by establishing the assailant's presence at the scene and, crucially, having had contact with a condom. This would enable forensic scientists to provide further support to the evidence in alleged cases of sexual assault."

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