UK Home Office recommends fpNatural IR powder amongst most effective treatments for the visualisation of fingermarks on polymer banknotes


Following comprehensive testing of a wide array of processes, the Home Office Centre for Applied Science and Technology (CAST) has recommended fpNatural 2, an IR fluorescent fingerprint dusting powder developed by foster+freeman, as being amongst the most effective treatments currently available for the visualisation of fingerprints on the UK’s recently introduced £5 and £10 polymer banknotes.


The tests, which were carried out by CAST ahead of last month’s release of a new Bank of England £10 polymer note, sought to identify a treatment that would be effective in revealing fingerprints deposited on polymer banknotes for inclusion in the Home Office Fingermark Visualisation Manual, a best practice manual for fingerprint examination that is used by police forces and forensic examiners worldwide.


View the new Official Home Office Guidance document, Fingermark visualisation on polymer currency (Bank of England)

Existing techniques rendered useless

Fingerprints recovered from banknotes have the potential to link suspects to crimes and identify criminals. However, the complex patterns and security features that currency manufacturers use to prevent counterfeiting also represent a significant challenge to forensic specialists hoping to recover fingermarks.

Previously, fingermark examiners had at their disposal, a wide array of techniques developed over a number of years to recover the best quality prints under varying conditions. Now, following the switch to polymer banknotes, the majority of these techniques have been rendered useless.

Research conducted by foster+freeman into the development of a new technique that would be suitable for use on the glossy surface, foil patches, and transparent windows of polymer banknotes centred on the use of infrared fluorescence imaging, a technique that is effective in generating bright detailed fingerprints while suppressing the banknotes complex backgrounds.

The resulting process, fpNatural 2 is a unique IR fluorescent dusting powder that is easy to apply and emits strong IR fluorescence when subjected to red or IR illumination, delivering a consistently high quality of results.


View the new Official Home Office Guidance document, Fingermark visualisation on polymer currency (Bank of England)

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