Today we investigate the steps taken to recover fingerprints at the crime scene
Here we look at the fascinating process used to catch criminals. Did you know that the main way of identifying a criminal is through recovering fingerprints? It is these prints that can link the suspect to the crime scene. Nowadays, it is possible to match any trace left behind to an offender at the scene of a crime. Fingerprints can be recovered in a number of ways such as through the use of brushes, powders, a magnifying glass, and tape. It is at the crime lab where fingerprints can help to identify a criminal or victim.
Modern forensic scientists now have the power to use a range of techniques which can help when it comes to enhancing print images. Gathering fingerprints is one of the best ways to link an offender to the scene. There are two types of prints. The first are latent prints which require processing to become visible. These prints take the most effort to locate at the scene. Such prints are the most common type of fingerprints which hold the most evidence. The second, is patent prints, which are visible but can be enhanced via further processing.
There are four main steps needed to recover fingerprints. These are as follows:
1) Locate the fingerprint at the scene of the crime
2) When visible, photograph the fingerprint
3) Lift the fingerprint after dusting the print with chemicals to make it easier to see
4) Compare the fingerprint to the suspect
Any surface that can hold a print can help investigators catch an offender. Investigators can recover fingerprints from porous surfaces such as paper, cardboard, and unfinished wood will hold a print. Non-porous surfaces such as metal, glass and plastic will not hold a print however, the use of powder will help to hold the print. The investigator will always seek fingerprint evidence at a crime scene, and at related locations for example the suspect’s car/home. Fingerprints can highlight items that were touched by a suspect. Each individual has a different unique fingerprint which remains the same throughout a person’s life. It can be debated that no two fingerprints are the same, even in the case of identical twins. To date, it has been difficult for investigators to recover fingerprints after two hours. Techniques are now being developed to help the recovery of prints longer than this period of time.
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