Fingermark Visualisation Manual Released Openly

In the ever-evolving landscape of forensic science, staying ahead is not just a priority; it’s a necessity. That’s why the public release of the Second Edition of the Fingermark Visualisation Manual (FVM) is causing ripples of excitement, with forensic examiners and investigators from around the world now having access.

Developed by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) on behalf of the Home Office, this manual is a treasure trove of updated techniques and best practices aimed at maximising fingermark recovery and aiding criminal investigations.

So, what’s in this edition? Plenty. From cutting-edge technical developments like the use of Indandione and Longwave Ultraviolet (UVA) Reflection to refined processes and updated health and safety guidelines, the FVM Second Edition is a comprehensive guide designed to equip forensic practitioners with the latest tools and knowledge.

One of the key aspects of the FVM is its versatility. While primarily aimed at those recovering fingermarks in a laboratory environment, it also provides valuable insights for Crime Scene Investigators (CSI) using fingermark visualisation processes at crime scenes. Whether in the controlled environment of a lab or the dynamic setting of a crime scene, the manual equips practitioners with the information needed to make informed decisions and execute the best plan of action for fingermark recovery.

Fingerprint Visualisation Manual - FTP
Front cover of the Fingermark Visualisation Manual (2nd Edition 2022) © DSTL 2022

Moreover, the manual goes beyond mere recovery techniques; it offers a glimpse into how fingermark evidence is ultimately used to identify individuals involved in criminal activities. Designed for practical use on a daily basis and as a reference for evaluating the best course of action, the FVM is a valuable resource for forensic practitioners at all levels.

It’s important to note that the FVM is tailored to the specific needs of UK law enforcement. Reflecting common policing practices and the necessity for compliance with UK legislation, the manual serves as a reliable reference for practitioners operating within this jurisdiction.

At the heart of the Fingermark Visualisation Manual lies a foundation of extensive research and scientific rationale. The knowledge and guidance provided in the manual are underpinned by decades of research conducted by the authors and their collaborators. Accompanied by the Fingermark Visualisation Source Book, which delves into the scientific theory behind each process, the manual offers practitioners a deeper understanding of the methodologies at play.

One of the significant highlights of this release is its availability. For the first time, the FVM is being openly published on the UK Government’s website, ensuring free access to the global forensic community, including academia and industry.  This move not only promotes transparency but also fosters collaboration and innovation within the field.

Accreditation to international standards such as ISO 17025 and ISO 17020 is increasingly becoming the norm in fingerprint laboratories and crime scene activities. While the FVM isn’t a guide to accreditation per se, it aligns with its goals and supports organisations in meeting these standards. By providing comprehensive information and guidance, the manual acts as a valuable resource for those seeking accreditation and maintaining required standards.

With the release of the Second Edition online, the FVM has undergone significant updates to reflect developments in techniques, technology, and guidance since it’s last publication in 2014. The Technical Changes document provides a detailed overview of the differences between the first and second editions, ensuring practitioners are up to date with the latest advancements in the field.

Behind the wealth of knowledge contained in the Fingermark Visualisation Manual lies decades of research and development funded by the HM Government’s Home Office. The manual is not just a compilation of techniques but is grounded in scientific theory, validated through rigorous testing, and supported by a vast body of literature. This rich foundation ensures that forensic practitioners have access to credible and reliable information to enhance their investigations. (Source Book:

image: How to navigate round the Fingerprint Visualisation Manual
How to navigate round the Fingermark Visualisation Manual © DSTL 2022

Publishing the Fingermark Visualisation Manual on GOV.UK not only reinforces the UK’s reputation as a leader in forensic science but also reflects a broader commitment to open access and knowledge sharing. By making scientific research more accessible, the manual benefits not only practitioners but also authors, researchers, funding bodies, and the education sector at large.

Gary Pugh OBE, Forensic Science Regulator, lauds the Fingermark Visualisation Manual as a cornerstone in the field of fingerprint visualisation. Its practical guidance and scientific insights have been instrumental in advancing forensic investigations and upholding standards of justice. With the continued support of experts and practitioners, the FVM remains an invaluable tool in the fight against crime.

The release of the Second Edition of the Fingermark Visualisation Manual marks a significant milestone in the field of forensic science. By embracing openness and innovation, it paves the way for more effective and reliable criminal investigations, ultimately contributing to a safer and more just society.

The Forensic Training Partnership in collaboration with London South Bank University is running its first Fingerprint Visualisation course in May 2024 under the leadership of Dr Stephen Bleay.  This is a practical hands-on course aimed at staff who work with Police Force Fingerprint Chemical Treatment Laboratories.

Please contract ASAP as spaces are limited and we are nearly full.

Please be aware the Fingerprint Visualisation Manual PDF is nearly 1,000 pages long, 250 MB

References used:

Accessed 13 March 2024 Mb

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

Editorial Team

The team at FTP are highly experienced subject matter experts with successful, practical track records who have distinguished themselves during their long careers. They collaborate to ensure that the best possible training is delivered to their students and ongoing support is offered once the students leave the training environment.
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