Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

The spectroscopic detection of drugs of abuse in fingerprints after development with powders and recovery with adhesive lifters

By M.J. West and Michael J. Went


The application of powders to fingerprints has long been established as an effective and reliable method\ud for developing latent fingerprints. Fingerprints developed in situ at a crime scene routinely undergo lifting\ud with specialist tapes and are then stored in evidence bags to allow secure transit and also to preserve the\ud chain of evidence. In a previous study we have shown that exogenous material within a fingerprint can\ud be detected using Raman spectroscopy following development with powders and lifting with adhesive\ud tapes. Other reports have detailed the use of Raman spectroscopy to the detection of drugs of abuse\ud in latent fingerprints including cyanoacrylate-fumed fingerprints. This study involves the application of\ud Raman spectroscopy for the analysis of drugs of abuse in latent fingerprints for fingerprints that had\ud been treated with powders and also subsequently lifted with adhesive tapes. Samples of seized ecstasy,\ud cocaine, ketamine and amphetamine were supplied by East Sussex Police and by the TICTAC unit at St.\ud Georges Hospital Tooting. Contaminated fingerprintswere deposited on clean glass slides. The application\ud of aluminium or iron based powders to contaminated fingerprints did not interfere with theRamanspectra\ud obtained for the contaminants. Contaminated fingerprints developed with powders and then lifted with\ud lifting tapes were also examined. The combination of these two techniques did not interfere with the\ud successful analysis. The lifting processwas repeated using hinge lifters. As the hinge lifters exhibited strong\ud Raman bands the spectroscopic analysiswas more complex and an increase in the number of exposures to\ud the detector allowed for improved clarification. Spectral subtraction was performed to remove peaks due\ud to the hinge lifters using OMNIC software. Raman spectra of developed and lifted fingerprints recorded\ud through evidence bags were obtained and it was found that the detection process was not compromised.\ud Although the application of powders did not interfere with the detection process the time taken to locate\ud the contaminant was increased due to the physical presence of more material within the fingerprint

Topics: QD
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2009
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (2006). Anomalies in polycyanoacrylate formation studied by Raman spectroscopy: Impications for the forensic enhancement of latent fingerprints for spectral analysis,
  2. (2002). Blind test evaluation of Raman spectroscopy as a forensic tool, Forensic Sci.
  3. (1999). Classification of narcotics in solid mixtures using principal component analysis and Raman spectroscopy,
  4. (1997). Determination of methamphetamine and its related compounds using Fourier transform Raman spectroscopy,
  5. (2005). Editor, Home Office fingerprint development handbook, Home Office,
  6. (2001). Powder method for detecting latent fingerprints: a review, Forensic Sci.
  7. (1972). Raman spectroscopy of some common barbiturates,
  8. (2000). Rapid analysis of ecstasy and related phenethylamines in seized tablets by Raman spectroscopy, The Analyst,
  9. (1999). The "Cutting" of Street Drugs in the USA in the 1990s',
  10. (2004). The detection of drugs of abuse in fingerprints using Raman spectroscopy I: latent fingerprints,
  11. (2004). The detection of drugs of abuse in fingerprints using Raman spectroscopy II: cyanoacrylate-fumed fingerprints,
  12. (2008). The spectroscopic detection of exogenous material in fingerprints after development with powders and recovery with adhesive lifters, Forensic Sci.
  13. (2006). Using OMNIC Algorithms, Thermo Electron Corporation,

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.