Sunday, October 27, 2013

New blood-scanning camera to help solve violent crimes and sexual assaults

Recently in a study of forensic sciences, a team of ‘blood detectives’ are looking into creating a working model of a camera that can detect and date blood traces more accurately. Since blood samples and splatter patterns are some of the most commonly used forms of prosecution evidence in violent crimes, these scientists are hoping to use this new camera to better date blood samples and create a more accurate chronology of events, let alone a precise time of death. This technology could also be used to detect and date other fluids, such as saliva, sweat, and semen, which could help improve conviction rates in rape cases and other sexual assaults.

Dr Meez Islam, the leader of the team working on the project, said forensic teams are still using techniques devised over a century ago because there currently is no effective way of dating blood. These include what is commonly seen on television where forensic scientists paint on chemicals to areas where blood is believed to be and hope a color reaction takes place due to the iron found in the hemoglobin of the blood.

He also stated that the forensic scientists often go to a crime scene and what appears to be blood is actually not. Blood on dark backgrounds are hard to see, and there are also traces of blood that are not visible to the naked human eye, so this new camera will allow for a fast, at-the-scene identification of the blood to speed up the investigative process. This imaging will scan the crime scene for blood and make the chances of missing a bloodstain very low.

A prototype built in Teesside University has apparently shown extremely high accuracy in blood sample laboratories. So far, police forces have shown a very high interest in the creation of these cameras, but Dr Islam says his team needs about 100,000 euros to fund the creation of a working model. This small investment though would lead to a large societal impact.

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