“Someone touched this. Surely there must be fingerprints on it!”
One of the most common misconceptions among laypersons is that fingerprints are always deposited onto items that someone had touched. However, that is not true.
Fingerprint deposition depends on factors such as:
- The person depositing the print
- The manner in which the item was handled during and after deposition
- The material of the item
- The age of the print
- The environment
If a fingerprint has been contaminated by dirt or blood, it would be apparent to the observer. However, latent prints are not visible to the naked eye and would require development techniques to render them visible. While a forensic scientist is able to provide advice on whether an object in question is likely to retain a latent fingerprint, he or she is unable to tell if a latent fingerprint has been deposited onto the object before examining it and applying the appropriate development technique(s). Hover over the image on the right!
Do you have an item which you suspect may contain latent fingerprints? Do not hesitate to consult one of our experts at firstname.lastname@example.org.