Revolutionary bullet-print technique pioneer honoured with OBE

Posted by pt91 at Jun 13, 2011 09:00 AM |
World-class forensic science at University of Leicester highlighted by researcher
Revolutionary bullet-print technique pioneer honoured with OBE

Dr John Bond, a Fellow of the Department of Chemistry.

Jpeg image of Dr Bond available for

A researcher at the University of Leicester who, in collaboration with Leicester academics, invented a revolutionary technique for uncovering fingerprints from spent bullet cartridges, has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours announced today (Saturday June 11).

Dr John Bond, a Fellow of the Department of Chemistry, and formerly a forensic scientist at Northamptonshire Police, has achieved worldwide impact in tackling ‘cold’ cases using the innovative technique.

He joins Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys and Professor Guy Rutty as forensic scientists at the University of  Leicester who have been honoured by HM The Queen. His citation reads: ‘For services to forensic science and the police.’

Dr Bond developed a method that enables scientists to ‘visualise fingerprints’ on metal (eg bullet casings) even after the print itself has been removed. He and colleagues at the University of Leicester conducted a study into the way fingerprints can corrode metal surfaces. The technique can enhance – after firing– a fingerprint that has been deposited on a small calibre metal cartridge case before it is fired.

Dr Bond’s work was cited as Time Magazine’s top 50 inventions of the year in 2008, and BBC Focus Magazine's inventions 'most likely to change the world' in 2009  - and was also featured on the hit TV show CSI Miami.  

It has attracted interest from many police forces across the world, most notably in the US where Dr Bond has now examined cartridge cases from literally hundreds of cold cases.  Some of these are notorious crimes that have featured on the ‘Americas Most Wanted’ TV shows and, recently, Dr Bond hosted a visit from the presenter, John Walsh, to learn more about this technique.  One law enforcement agency in the US has described this as ‘The New DNA’ and interest has already been shown in Dr Bond’s latest improvement for his technique to work on IEDs in Afghanistan.

Dr Bond said: “I was surprised to receive a letter from the Cabinet Office and now feel honoured and privileged to think that my research has been seen to be worthy of a personal honour from the sovereign.  I hope that colleagues in the Chemistry Department and, indeed, throughout the University will see this as recognition for the world class forensic science research that Leicester has become renowned for.

“At a time when investment in forensic science research is under threat nationally, the fact that  the contribution Leicester has made is seen to be worthy of such an honour bodes well for the future of such research not only at Leicester but throughout the UK.”

Dr Bond read Applied Physics at the University of Bath, gained a first class honours degree, and then went on to research for a D.Phil. at the University of Sussex in space plasma physics. Following a period as an EPSRC Research Fellow at Sussex and some time in private industry, he joined Northamptonshire Police in 1993 to head the force’s Forensic Science Unit. Since then, Dr Bond has become interested in understanding the forensic process (from a crime being reported, to its detection) and how it can be used to increase the detection of crime by forensic science. In recent years, this has led to his involvement with a number of UK universities in the areas of criminology, Chemistry and Physics, principally with the University of Leicester and, in recognition of this, Dr Bond was made an Honorary Fellow in 2007.  

In the past four years Dr Bond has published over forty research papers and has taken out eight patents.  Some of Dr Bond’s inventions are now commercially available and have been used by law enforcement agencies across the world. 

He is currently working closely with Professor Rob Hillman and colleagues  in the Department of Chemistry. As part of this work, a  three-week residential summer school for undergraduate and postgraduate students CSI: Leicester is taking place from 18 July-6 August. This provides a unique insight into forensic science and its role in criminal justice.

Professor Andy Abbott, Head of Chemistry, said: “We are delighted that John’s achievements have been honoured in this way. It has been a great benefit to the University having a skilled practitioner working with us developing these new forensic techniques.

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