Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Perfume could soon be used to help solve sexual assault cases

perfume-solve-sexual-assault-crime.jpg

The suspicious wife sniffing her husband for the scent of another woman’s perfume on his shirt: it’s an old Hollywood cliché, but it’s got forensic science behind it.

That’s according to a group of scientists in London, who have discovered that a fragrance’s chemical components can easily transfer from one person’s clothing to another – and linger there for days.

But rather than using their discovery to sniff out adultery, the team say that this research could help detectives solve violent crimes, including sexual assaults.

The results of the study suggest that perfumes have the potential to be used as “trace evidence”: the tiny pieces of forensic evidence, such as hair, soil or flecks of blood, which are often left behind at the scene of a physical crime.

Writing in the journal Science and Justice, the scientists say that analysing fragrances could be useful in cases such as sexual assaults where there has been close physical contact, the BBC reports.

“We thought there was a lot of potential with perfume because a lot of people use it,” says lead researcher Simona Gherghel, from University College London. “We know about 90% of women and 60% of men use perfume on a regular basis.”

She adds that while lots of forensic research has been done on other kinds of “transfers – for example, the transfer of fibres or the transfer of gun-shot residue” – this is the first piece of research into the transfer of perfumes. 

perfume-solve-crime

Chemical compounds from perfume can linger on fabric for days, scientists have discovered.

A crucial part of the study involved the scientists pinpointing when fragrances were transferred from one piece of fabric to another, meaning that detectives may later be able to link criminals to the time of the crime as well as the scene.

“We’ve shown that first, perfume does transfer, and second, we can identify when that transfer has happened,” says Dr Ruth Morgan, director of the UCL Centre for the Forensic Sciences.

“In the future there could well be situations where contact between two individuals is made and this is a way of discerning what kind of contact is made and when it was made.”

However, the team stressed that more research needs to be done before fragrance will be used in forensic investigations – adding that perfume is unlikely to make or break a criminal investigation.

“It is not going to be a one-stop indicator,” says Dr Morgan. “In most investigations we would be hopeful that there would be multiple lines of investigation. We wouldn’t want it to just be DNA or just a fingerprint or just perfume.

“But in combination, with other forms of evidence, that’s the way it builds up into a very compelling picture.”

Images: iStock

Related

david becker.png

Outcry after teen rapist in US avoids jail so he can go to college

iStock_85829745_MEDIUM.jpg

Female journalists share their stories of sexual harassment

outdoors.jpg

Why we should all spend more time outdoors, according to science

kalari.JPG

Meet the sword-fighting granny teaching girls the art of self-defence

yes no consent.jpg

A woman on Twitter has explained sexual consent in the best way

tattoo-drunk.jpg

These tattoos tell your smartphone how drunk you are

iStock_67177271_LARGE.jpg

Book lovers, rejoice: the best news ever for reading addicts

gigi hadid.jpg

Are men better at making up after a fight?

mary karr.jpg

Best-selling author pens epic response to man who assaulted her

Comments

More

Clueless nearly never got made because of Hollywood sexism

As Cher would say, as if

by Jasmine Andersson
23 Jun 2017

Starbucks are hiring 2,500 refugees across Europe

by Nicola Colyer
23 Jun 2017

Man carries out flower girl duties with immense pride and solemnity

His commitment is quite something

by Amy Swales
23 Jun 2017

Shocking US law says men can finish sex if woman withdraws consent

Shocking

by Moya Crockett
23 Jun 2017

Serial fans, Adnan Syed has been given a second chance in court

New hope for Syed supporters

by Kayleigh Dray
23 Jun 2017

The scientific reason summer turns you into a horrible person

A new study confirms that we’re not very nice when we’re too hot

by Moya Crockett
23 Jun 2017

The 5 most surprising things I learnt from appearing on First Dates

What's it really like to appear on First Dates?

by Jasmine Andersson
22 Jun 2017

Rihanna just gave a heartbroken fan the best relationship advice

The pop star took time out to give a fan this brilliant tip

by Stylist
22 Jun 2017

First Dates fans respond to “shocking” mansplaining incident

“A frightened, insecure monkey hanging on to his patriarchal perch for dear life”

by Kayleigh Dray
22 Jun 2017

Golden rules of work happiness from Europe’s female tech leaders

From nap rooms to therapists and no overtime

by Anna Brech
22 Jun 2017