Crime scene investigators can tell what a criminal ate and drank before they committed a crime, thanks to pioneering fingerprint technology.

The equipment can detect certain food and drink, such as garlic and coffee, as well as work out if a criminal has taken drugs.

Scientists have already used the tool to determine the sex of a criminal and are now working on it being able to test for medical conditions.

They could also use it to tell the police how long a fingerprint has been at the crime scene.

The microscopic technology is called Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionisation Mass Spectrometry Imaging (MALDI-MSI) and it traces drugs, hair and cleaning products in fingerprints.

It has been developed by researchers at Sheffield Hallam University’s Biomedical Research Centre (BMRC).

The researchers are working with West Yorkshire Police, who are trialling the technology on fingerprints left at scenes of crime.

Dr Simona Francese, who led the research, said: ‘MALDI enables you to detect the chemistry of the finger marks so essentially what chemicals are present on finger marks.

‘What we can do with the technology is detect multiple species in one analysis.’

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