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  1. ITV Report

New technology can detect a suspect's hair gel from just their fingerprint

Different materials found on the surface of the skin can be analysed to build up a profile. Credit: PA images

New technology, which can provide an in-depth analysis of a suspect's profile from just their fingerprint at a crime scene, could soon be used in court.

The fingerprint profiling method can detect traces of various substances including drugs, blood, hair, cleaning products and even condom lubricants.

The technology known as MALDI-MSI, has been developed by scientists at Sheffield Hallam University, and uses a form of mass spectrometry.

Following funding from the Home Office, researchers have been working with West Yorkshire Police to trial the technique.

They are hoping it could soon be used by other police forces across the UK and would be able to provide crucial background information in criminal cases.

Before fingerprint samples have been run through a police database to identify a possible suspect. Credit: PA images

MALDI-MSI has already proved useful during a police investigation into a case of harassment in West Yorkshire.

Researchers discovered traces of a unique molecule that only forms in the body when cocaine and alcohol are consumed at the same time.

The drugs were confirmed by forensic tests but the defendant had denied drinking as well and only later admitted it prior to the court hearing.

Police say this new technology was able to provide new information into the criminal's state of mind at the time of committing the offence.

Project leader Dr Simona Francese said: "This is yet another step closer to our aim of getting this technology integrated into standard forensic procedures at scenes of crime across the country."

West Yorkshire Police’s Regional Head of Identification Services, Neil Denison, added: “This research presents an exciting opportunity to enhance fingerprint capability beyond just identification and will help us to profile the lifestyle of the offender.”