'Ear print' identification breakthrough

June 2004 Access Control & Identity Management, Security Services & Risk Management

Experts at a university working with a forensic services company have made a breakthrough in developing what they believe is the first computerised system for ear image and ear print identification.

Intended for use by police agencies, immigration and intelligence services, the system works on whole or partial ear images and whole or partial ear prints.

The state of its present development was presented by members of Leicester University's Forensic Pathology Unit at a meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in Dallas, Texas. The unit's head professor, Guy Rutty, whose knowledge and expertise are internationally recognised, spoke on a computerised system of human ear image and print identification.

At the same meeting Dr Ben Swift, SpR in Forensic Pathology, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, a trainee in the UK university's forensic pathology unit, spoke on developing the 'isotope fingerprint' in human skeletal remains.

Developments in isotope fingerprint analyses have resulted in the creation of technologies to assist forensic investigations. From an unidentified body, estimations of the time that has elapsed since death and the geographical origin of a person across their lifetime can be made.

These new techniques have been successfully applied to police cases within the UK and, through a close association with the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), have assisted in resolving issues of war crimes in Bosnia Herzegovina.

Professor Rutty has worked for 13 UK police forces. He has assisted the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) with war crime investigations in Bosnia, and the unit is assisting the ICMP.

He comments, "This is a very exciting development within the field of ear image and ear print identification. This breakthrough in the computerisation of the identification system may ultimately allow the development of a system similar to that of the national fingerprint system which is used for the identification of individuals by police forces across the world."

For more information contact Ather Mirza, University of Leicester, 0944 116 252 2415, pressoffice@le.ac.uk, www.le.ac.uk

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