"It's not quite the Holy Grail of fingerprinting, but it's a very important discovery," Marcel de Puit, fingerprint researcher at the Dutch Forensic Institute (NFI), told AFP on Wednesday, hailing what he said was a world's first... "Being able to date the prints means you can determine when a potential suspect was at the crime scene or which fingerprints are relevant for the investigation," De Puit said...
"The chemicals in these fingerprints can be analysed," said De Puit. "Some disappear over time and it's the relative proportions of these chemicals that allow us to date a fingerprint."
Previous attempts to crack the formula for dating fingerprints failed because they focused on the amounts of chemicals, rather than their relative proportions, De Puit said.
Taking into account the temperature of the original prints' surroundings, which affects the speed of deterioration, forensic experts can now date fingerprints to within "one or two days", up to 15 days.
The new technique needs to be extensively tested on real crimes scenes, leading to the creation of a database, before it can be used in prosecutions, hopefully "within a year", De Puit said.