A discovery made at Loughborough University is set to revolutionise forensic science, as a cutting-edge fingerprint development technology becomes commercially available. The technology is being developed at the LLEP area’s Loughborough University Science and Enteprise Park (LUSEP).
RECOVER is a chemical vapour fuming process that allows fingerprints to be collected in incredibly high definition. Previously, fingerprints could become obscured or damaged or prove difficult to retrieve from certain items. RECOVER allows forensic investigators to lift prints from items including spent bullet casings, IED fragments and even items washed or submerged for extended periods.
Dr Paul Kelly of Loughborough University and his team of inorganic chemists made the discovery of the key aent in the RECOVER process by chance. Realising its significance, they published their findings and soon attracted attracted the attention of the Centre for Applied Science and Technology (CAST – now part of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, DSTL).
The development of the technology has been a three-way collaborative approach between the University, CAST and DSTL – was established to develop the game-changing technology. Global forensic manufacturers Foster & Freeman Ltd (F&F) joined them in 2017, providing the necessary expertise to refine and optimise the technology for the security marketplace. The new fingerprint development system – RECOVER – was commercially launched in late 2018.
Dr Roberto King, R&D Application Specialist with F&F, says: “The development of RECOVER shows how important it is with any groundbreaking technology for academic researchers to collaborate with commercial partners. Together, we can transform the initial discovery into a useful, potentially lifesaving commercial entity.”
RECOVER is a huge step forward in crime detection, and has generated great interest in the security sector. Some units are now in place, already playing their part in forensic investigations.
To continue the close working relationship and knowledge transfer as RECOVER continues to evolve, F&F are establishing laboratories at LUSEP that will produce the chemical reagent used in the RECOVER process.
Dr Paul Kelly says: “That one fingerprint on a sample vial back in 2008 has inspired activity across campus, not just around fingerprinting.
“We’ve looked at topics spanning heritage crime, metal theft and bodily fluid analysis, working a with a range of partners including the Home Office, Historic England and various UK police forces.
“We’re excited to see how RECOVER performs in the field, and the impact it has on law enforcement and security worldwide.”
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