FCN has established a new consortium with three universities to undertake the first nationwide pilot study on fingerprint validation.

Fingerprint capture

Fingerprint experts from Staffordshire University, University of South Wales and University of Portsmouth will lead on the research, which is scheduled to be completed in 2022.

The initiative was devised by FCN’s marks and traces research group, one of six groups which bring together experts from policing, academia and the private sector to identify research opportunities.

Put simply, the consortium’s study aims to validate that the powders and processes used to lift fingerprints from crime scenes and analyse them are fit-for-purpose. Ultimately, this could result in new national, standardised guidance available to police forces and private providers.

A recent survey by University of South Wales has already identified the various powders and processes used nationally and internationally. Work has also been completed by Portsmouth University, FCN, DSTL and industry partners to assess and develop a fingerprint batch testing protocol.

The pilot programme will also bring together organisations from the private sector, academia, policing and central government. Its findings will also be followed closely by the Forensic Science Regulator, which works to ensure that forensic science in the criminal justice system follows appropriate quality standards.

Organisers are looking for support from police CSI practitioners during the pilot, either through engaging with the universities through their partnerships or by volunteering directly to FCN.

FCN Research Manager, Carolyn Lovell, said:

“Through coordinating a pilot we aim to identify what works and also what is required for us to be successful moving forward and hope that this could be a vehicle for future projects across the forensic domains. 

“At the end of the pilot the learning will be shared with the forensic community and hopefully develop significant large data sets to underpin the forensic work our teams are undertaking on a daily basis.”

The study also supports FCN’s broader research activities and its findings may develop a pathway for further opportunities.

Carolyn added:

“Thanks to the practitioners who’ve engaged with this project so far and to everyone who completed our survey. It’s enabled us to gather significant data to establish an evidence base to take the validation and research forward.”

For more information, visit FCN’s R&D page.