Fingerprint dating is a giant breakthrough for forensics as up until now when fingerprints were taken at a crime scene, there was no way to know how long those prints have been there. This new technique allows forensic experts to date the fingerprints to within a day or two of the crime, according to NewsMax on June 5.
Why is this so important? An example of this might best explain why law enforcement will find this a useful tool. If your home has been burglarized and your neighbor's fingerprints are present, before today there was no way of knowing if your neighbor left their fingerprints while over for coffee last week or if your neighbor was there during the time the crime was committed.
This new fingerprint technique can date those fingerprints within one or two days, up to 15 days. Fingerprints are unique to each individual and the use of fingerprints for identifying suspects of a crime began in the early 1900s.
Using fingerprints for identification has been around for over a century, but up until now they could only place someone in a location, but offer no date. In a place where many fingerprints would be present, like someone's home, this fingerprint dating gives law enforcement a more precise tool when trying to solve a crime.
According to the Japan Times, Marcel De Puit, a fingerprint researcher at the Dutch Forensic Institute, announced that they've had success with this new fingerprint dating in a statement released on Wednesday. This fingerprint dating is a world first, claims De Puit.
Fingerprints are made up of sweat and grease along with the chemicals of cholesterol, proteins and amino acid. There is a complex mix of chemicals and after analyzing all the different chemicals found in a fingerprints, it was discovered that some of these chemicals disappear over time.
It is the proportions of the chemicals left on a fingerprint over time that allows the scientists to date the fingerprint. Trying to date fingerprints is something that has been attempted before, but the scientist were going about it the wrong way and the experiments have failed.
Focusing on the relative proportions of the chemicals left behind works for dating, scientists were focusing on the amount of chemicals left after time, which failed to offer any use in dating a fingerprint.
The temperature of the original fingerprint's surroundings affects the speed of deterioration of the chemicals in the prints, so by taking this into account, scientists can date fingerprints within one or two days that the fingerprint was made. They can do this up to 15 days.
This tool will help law enforcement immensely when they are relying on the fingerprints to help solve a case. They expect this fingerprint dating to expand to where they can date a print from several years ago.
More testing at real crime scenes is needed before the technique will be ready for use in forensics. This fingerprint dating should be ready within a year for law enforcement to use this in the field.