The spectroscopic detection of drugs of abuse in fingerprints after development with powders and recovery with adhesive lifters

West, M.J. and Went, Michael J. (2009) The spectroscopic detection of drugs of abuse in fingerprints after development with powders and recovery with adhesive lifters. Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy, 71 (5). pp. 1984-1988. ISSN 1386-1425. (doi: (Full text available)

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The application of powders to fingerprints has long been established as an effective and reliable method for developing latent fingerprints. Fingerprints developed in situ at a crime scene routinely undergo lifting with specialist tapes and are then stored in evidence bags to allow secure transit and also to preserve the chain of evidence. In a previous study we have shown that exogenous material within a fingerprint can be detected using Raman spectroscopy following development with powders and lifting with adhesive tapes. Other reports have detailed the use of Raman spectroscopy to the detection of drugs of abuse in latent fingerprints including cyanoacrylate-fumed fingerprints. This study involves the application of Raman spectroscopy for the analysis of drugs of abuse in latent fingerprints for fingerprints that had been treated with powders and also subsequently lifted with adhesive tapes. Samples of seized ecstasy, cocaine, ketamine and amphetamine were supplied by East Sussex Police and by the TICTAC unit at St. Georges Hospital Tooting. Contaminated fingerprintswere deposited on clean glass slides. The application of aluminium or iron based powders to contaminated fingerprints did not interfere with theRamanspectra obtained for the contaminants. Contaminated fingerprints developed with powders and then lifted with lifting tapes were also examined. The combination of these two techniques did not interfere with the successful analysis. The lifting processwas repeated using hinge lifters. As the hinge lifters exhibited strong Raman bands the spectroscopic analysiswas more complex and an increase in the number of exposures to the detector allowed for improved clarification. Spectral subtraction was performed to remove peaks due to the hinge lifters using OMNIC software. Raman spectra of developed and lifted fingerprints recorded through evidence bags were obtained and it was found that the detection process was not compromised. Although the application of powders did not interfere with the detection process the time taken to locate the contaminant was increased due to the physical presence of more material within the fingerprint.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: Raman spectroscopy; Fingerprints; Fingerprint development; Fingerprint lifting; Drugs of abuse
Subjects: Q Science > QD Chemistry
Divisions: Faculties > Sciences > School of Physical Sciences > Functional Materials Group
Depositing User: Michael J Went
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2009 10:47 UTC
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2014 13:45 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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