The effect of corrosive substances on fingermark recovery: a pilot study

Journal article


Bleay, S. and Masterson, A. (2021). The effect of corrosive substances on fingermark recovery: a pilot study. Science and Justice. 61 (5). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scijus.2021.07.004
AuthorsBleay, S. and Masterson, A.
Abstract

Corrosive substance attacks have become a growing issue within the UK. Although most commonly occurring in gang-related offences, there are high profile instances where this type of attack has been used to attack women to disfigure and destroy livelihoods. Despite the increase in such attacks, there has been very little published research into the recovery of forensic evidence from items used in these crimes. The effect of corrosive substances on the recovery of different types of forensic evidence is unknown, and there is no guidance for laboratories processing exhibits contaminated with corrosive substances regarding optimum treatments. This pilot study focused on establishing the effectiveness of a range of fingermark visualisation processes in recovering fingermarks on surfaces exposed to concentrated sulfuric acid (acid) and potassium hydroxide (alkali). Results indicate that on non-porous surfaces vacuum metal deposition and powder suspensions remain effective, and on porous surfaces fingermarks could still be visualised with physical developer. Alkalis were found to be more detrimental than acid environments in this limited study. The results demonstrate that fingermark recovery is still feasible on surfaces exposed to corrosive substances and provides encouragement that treatment protocols could be developed for this type of exhibit.

KeywordsCorrosive substances, fingermarks, alkali, acid, evidence recovery
Year2021
JournalScience and Justice
Journal citation61 (5)
PublisherElsevier
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scijus.2021.07.004
Web address (URL)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S135503062100099X
Publication dates
Print01 Sep 2021
Online21 Jul 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted19 Jul 2021
Deposited10 Aug 2021
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