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New infrared tattoo camera could help solve crimes

Published 14/12/2009

A new infrared camera could help solve crimes by finding people's hidden tattoos, a university said today.

Forensic scientists already look at tattoos as a way of identifying suspects or finding leads in investigations, but criminals can easily have them changed or updated.

Today scientists at the University of Derby said using an infrared digital camera could help determine if a tattoo was an original, or if it was a second tattoo covering the old one.

A traditional colour camera only picks up what is on the surface of the skin. But using a digital camera sensitive to infrared, researchers can see if there are hidden layers or changes to the original tattoo deeper in the skin.

David Bryson, senior lecturer of applied photography and forensic science at the university, said: “Identifying individuals using tattoos has been an established part of forensic science practice for some time, but there can be cover-ups of tattoos with lasers, more tattoos or surgery.

“It is now possible to take a control photograph and a separate photograph with an infrared filter to take images of the tattoo, and determine if it is indeed the original or is a cover-up, or altered tattoo on the surface.”

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