The FCN helps promote innovation in forensics and bring research into practice. In our research round-ups, you can find the latest innovations and ideas. If you have something to share with our research and innovation team, please get in touch with Shelley Wilson, our Research & Innovation Lead.

New Areas of Forensic Research Interest (ARIs) released

The FCN’s areas of forensic research interest are reviewed annually and published on our research webpage. Our latest ARIs released in April 2024 cover topics including AI, new technologies, staff recruitment, wellbeing, environmental impact, and ethics. Have you got an interest in these topics? Or a current study which relates to them? We’d love to hear about it. Wider policing ARIs are available here.

Research highlight: molecular fingerprinting

Research has been conducted on the forensic use and application of MALDI to support police investigations. Pioneered by Sheffield Hallam University, Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionisation Mass Spectrometry Imaging (MALDI MSI) can detect and map molecules contained in latent and patent fingermarks, directly onto the ridge pattern.

This capability generates multiple images of the same fingermark, as well as molecular information about the owner of the mark that could further help an investigation. MALDI MSI has been shown to separate overlapping fingermarks and ‘fill in the gaps’ for unenhanced areas or interrupted ridge pattern.

The FCN helped facilitate a partnership between Sheffield Hallam University and Yorkshire and Humberside police forces, developing shared understanding of best practise and how the technology can support police investigations. We recently reported on the STAR-funded project to the Police Chief Scientific Adviser’s (CSA) office. Contact Simona Francese for more information at

More available research

The College of Policing’s National Police Library enables access to a range of recent studies and research which could have forensic applications. Here are some which we’ve discovered recently, why not look them up for yourself?

  • Horizontal fire spread by foam-backed, polypropylene carpet, By M Jones. Science and Justice, Volume 64, Issue 2. March 2024. Pages 166-179
  • Comparison of DNA recovery methods and locations from regularly-worn hooded jumpers before and after use by a second wearer. By Georgina E. Meakin, Guilherme s. Jacques, Ruth M Morgan. Science and Justice, Volume 64, Issue 2. March 2024. Pages 232-242
  • Study on the standard components of digital forensics laboratory. By: Shin, SuMin; Hong, JaeWon; Kim, GiBum. Journal of Forensic Sciences. May2023, Vol. 68 Issue 3, p839-855. 17p.
  • SoK: Exploring the Potential of Large Language Models for Improving Digital Forensic Investigation Efficiency. By: Wickramasekara, Akila; Breitinger, Frank; Scanlon, Mark. 02/29/2024

GenAI for criminals

A new report on criminal use of genAI has been published. The report states it hasn’t seen a spate of high-quality criminal LLMs emerge in the WormGPT mould, but it has observed several low-quality or scam offerings, such as FraudGPT and DarkGPT amongst others. It also noted an emerging ‘jailbreak-as-a-service’ trend with services such as EscapeGPT, LoopGPT and BlackhatGPT, which work by subverting guardrails against misuse on third-party LLMs. Primary genAI criminal-use cases include the development of malicious tools and honing of social engineering approaches. Criminal deepfake services are now emerging, including some aimed at bypassing Know-Your-Customer checks. The report was published by cybersecurity firm Trend Micro.

Google’s I/O 2024 and a scam call detection tool

At Google’s I/O 2024 event, the company announced amongst other things:

  • Gemini model updates – including Project Astra, a new multimodal AI agent
  • Veo – a new video generation model
  • AI Overviews that provide adjustable AI-generated answers to search queries
  • SynthID watermarking being extended to AI-generated video content

The company also previewed a tool to detect and flag scam calls by on-device detection of relevant risk signals. This tool will be available on Android phones powered by Google’s on-device Gemini Nano model. The scam call detection tool could prove useful in fraud prevention. However, as it works by ‘listening’ to incoming calls it may attract privacy-related pushback. But if such objections can be overcome and the tool is perceived to be useful, it could potentially help lower resistance to other on-device detection capabilities, such as client-side scanning tools for CSAM detection and CSEA prevention.

ACE Insights

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Have a look at FCN’s research page for more information or get in touch with our Research and Innovation Lead, Shelley Wilson.