The University has recently established a research network on the theme of “Identification”. The Network, led from the Department of Chemistry, involves collaboration between researchers in all three Colleges: Prof Rob Hillman (Chemistry), Prof. Jeremy Levesley (Maths), Prof Turi King (Genetics), Prof Guy Rutty (Cancer Studies/East Midlands Pathology Unit), Dr Steve Morley (Toxicology), Dr Jo Appleby and Dr Richard Thomas (Archaeology), Dr Tracey Elliott and John Hartshorne (Law) and, as the first external member, Prof Sarah Hainsworth (recently to the University of Aston).

The Network will integrate molecular, mathematical, (bio)medical, imaging, anthropological and legal concepts and expertise to create a uniquely powerful machine for the identification of an individual. They may be the victim of violent crime, a casualty of conflict, a victim of natural disaster or an historical figure, or a living individual of unknown identity and origin. The research will impact on legal, financial, security and societal activities. Obvious opportunities include investigation of violent crime and terrorism, identification of victims of natural disasters, human tragedies, war crimes and historical events.

Recent global events have triggered large scale migrations of individuals who often wish to conceal their identity. To address this and the established crime of people-trafficking, governments require enhanced means of immediate identification at national borders. Later, re-uniting of “lost” individuals requires establishment of familial relationships. Financial transactions require proof that an individual  is the legitimate owner of the funds, commodity or property. While financial institutions employ various technologies – signature, fingerprint or voiceprint - the absence of a freely available individual-to-individual technology is notable. All these require improvements in physical technology, better means of handling the “big data” challenges and their integration within the legal system.

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