Forensic researchers in the U.K. say they've developed a new technique
to help law enforcement officers gather evidence at crime scenes.
The technique will reportedly enable detectives to hunt down sex offenders
who use condoms to try to avoid DNA identification.
Researchers at Sheffield Hallam University say forensic specialists of
the sort popularized by the hit TV show "CSI" will be able to
identify condom lubricant in the whorls of fingerprints left behind at
Scientists at the school's Biomedical Research Centre say increasing
numbers of sex offenders use condoms in the commission of their crimes
in order to avoid leaving DNA evidence behind. Some offenders also reportedly
use the latex barrier devices to reduce the possibility of contracting
sexually transmitted diseases.
The scientists say their long-term goal is to help police match condom
lubricant found on fingerprints with lubricant evidence taken from crime
victims. The research team said it hopes in the future to be able to differentiate
between condom brands, enabling law enforcement to create more detailed
Their work makes use of a potent technology called matrix-assisted laser
desorption ionization spectrometry imaging (MALDI-MSI) that maps ridge
patterns in fingerprints.
One of the researchers said 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. However, they are less likely to consider the
possibility of lubricant transferring onto their fingertips and then into
fingermarks left at the scene."
The scientist said if prosecutors can link the suspect to a victim with
fingerprints containing condom lubricant, it would put the suspect at
the scene of the crime, "having had contact with a condom."
Resource: Moortown Today: "New technique tracks sex offenders": January 25, 2011