Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Techniques for Fingerprint Visualizing: Groundbreaking Crime Detection Method Wins BBC Focus Magazine Award for Innovations of The Future


A pioneering breakthrough in forensic crime detection developed by an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Leicester’s Forensic Research Centre has won recognition from BBC Focus magazine.

Scientific Support Manager for the Northamptonshire Police, Dr John Bond and his technique of ‘fingerprint visualising’ has been selected as one of the British innovations most likely to have the biggest impact on the world in the next few years by the magazine’s science, technology and future awards 2009.

Dr Bond’s innovation was first developed at his home using homemade components joined together by twisted wire and gaffer tape. It was developed further by Dr Bond working in collaboration with scientists at the University of Leicester Department of Chemistry. The technique can reveal previously undiscovered fingerprints on metal, especially gun shell casings by applying a large voltage to the metal and adding ceramic beads coated with a fine powder to the surface which react with the corrosion on the metal left over from fingerprints, even after they have been wiped off, revealing the original fingerprint pattern. It is hoped that this new technique can provide breakthroughs on previously unsolved cases by revealing hidden evidence.

Dr Bond commented: “I am very surprised and overwhelmed by this prestigious award, particularly as the judges included such well known and successful inventors as Sir James Dyson. The award is for 'innovation most likely to impact the world significantly' and I very much hope that our work lives up to this and can be used to solve many crimes by law enforcement agencies across the world.”

This recognition by BBC Focus magazine is not the first time Dr Bond’s pioneering technique has received acclaim; his method was described by Time magazine as one of the world’s top 50 inventions of 2008 and it has also been featured on a recent episode of US television show, America’s Most Wanted, the American equivalent of Crimewatch.

Dr Bond said: “We have been overwhelmed by how much interest there has been in this technique, mainly from the US but, of late, from many other countries including Canada, South Africa, Israel, the Caribbean and Hong Kong. We currently have about one visit a month to our laboratory from overseas scientists to find out more about what we do.”

A total of 14 innovations and an additional 6 ‘mini marvels’ were selected by an expert judging panel featuring Sir James Dyson best known for reinventing the vacuum cleaner; Lesley Gavin, futurologist for BT; Richard Noble, Project Director of ThrustSSC which holds the World Land Speed Record and Jem Stansfield, presenter of Bang Goes the Theory and creator of vacuum gloves.

Media contacts:
John Bond, Scientific Support Manager
Contact via Northamptonshire Police Press Office: Tel: (01604) 703197/8/9 or 703238
University of Leicester Press Office, 0116 252 2415, pressoffice@le.ac.uk

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