Frettie [CC BY 3.0 (]

Research into a new technique of detecting fingerprints is being carried out at the University of Nottingham. It’s hoped it will help to solve knife and gun crime.

Lifting fingerprints from metal surfaces has always been a challenge, but this new development in fingerprint scanning could help the police solve crimes involving guns and knives

Image courtesy of Dr James Sharp – University of Nottingham

Dr James Sharp of the University of Nottingham is leading the research, “It became increasingly apparent that it was very difficult to get fingerprints from metal surfaces, and they way that they conventionally do it, doesn’t work very well.”

He added, “Knives for example, that have been used in a violent crime, tend to be left around after the event and are exposed to the natural environment.”

WATCH: Dr James Sharp explains how the technology works

A problem with traditional methods of fingerprint detection is that they struggle to pick up prints on metal surfaces, especially if a large period of time has passed.

“We’re already in conversation with the local cold case squad”

– Dr James Sharp

With this research it is hoped that the abilities of this technology will help police solve cold cases, where previous technology could not identify the offender.

“We’re already in conversation with the local cold case squad who are interested in bringing in some items of evidence they have got.”

“The idea is then to use this technique to try and get fingerprints from them, so fingers crossed!”

An area that is particularly exciting about this research is it’s potential to detect fingerprints on bullet casings, as Dr James Sharp explains:



With knife crime on the rise in 2019, this technology could help put more offenders behind bars.

  • Knife crime convictions in Nottingham at highest level in 6 years
  • 16 murders in Nottingham from 1963 – 2007 are still unsolved
  • Nottingham was named crime capital of the UK in 2006