Welsh dust reveals light-fingered felons

November 3, 1995

Researchers at the University of Wales in Swansea are helping in the fight against crime by developing a new type of powder to uncover fingerprints.

Prints found at the scene of a crime are not always easy to detect or photograph. Some can be on difficult surfaces, such as painted walls, plastic bags or magazine covers. And others - up to 10 per cent - are damaged beyond recognition by police officers because the contours of prints are easily smudged when excess powder is being brushed away.

Brian Wilshire, Swansea's professor of materials engineering, has developed a new type of dusting powder made of magnetic iron flakes which adheres to the ridges of prints and produces a sharper image on awkward surfaces. And as it leaves much less residue than conventional powders it reduces the likelihood of damage to the print.

The magnetic powder, successfully tested by police forces in Wales, is now being produced for use across the United Kingdom.

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