It has been reported (BBC news) that new technology which can detect whether a person has touched a condom or even what they have eaten could soon be used in Court.

Sheffield Hallam University have been working with the Police in West Yorkshire to trial the technique involving mass spectrometry which can detect various traces of substances touched by your fingertips.

It is said that this new technology can discover whether a person has abused substances like drugs or alcohol and can even establish if they have touched a condom.

The Home Office have stated that this new way of obtaining evidence could be used in case work and before Courts in as little as a few months’ time. It is also reported that the technology had been used to find blood in 30 year old fingerprints and therefore could potentially be used in cold case reviews.

Mass Spectrometry is a very complex science and using the technology the experts could establish the following details about a person:-
  • Their gender
  • Whether the person has touched blood, from either a human or an animal
  • Whether they have taken drugs (Cannabis, Cocaine, Amphetamines etc)
  • Whether a strand of hair is present on the fingerprint
  • If there are traces of cleaning products or cosmetics
  • Whether the person has touched condom lubricants, possibly even determining the brand of condom or lubricants touched.

Obviously this is a breakthrough in the way that the Prosecuting authorities can obtain evidence but it can also be used in the opposite way. Should this technology become more widespread, not only could it be used to determine whether someone is guilty, it could be the piece of evidence needed to prove someone’s innocence.

As the technology is so advanced and currently it seems that it will be used in high profile cases, it is unlikely that the Legal Aid Agency will be funding the use of this technique. The Legal Aid Agency however do fund other techniques which may be pivotal in a Magistrates or Crown Court case.


We at Ringrose Law understand how worrying it can be if you are arrested or charged with an offence and we have Solicitors available 24/7 to advise. If you are arrested, feel free to contact us to attend upon you at the Police Station as any advice given at the Police Station is free of charge covered by the Legal Aid Agency’s Advice and Assistance Scheme.

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