UCL Centre for the Forensic Sciences


Simona Gherghel

Simona Ghergel

Research synopsis: Investigating the potential of fragrance as a suitable form of trace evidence.

Contact: 35 Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9EZ or email

Investigating the potential of fragrance as a suitable form of trace evidence.

Background: There is currently a lack of published literature addressing the potential of perfume trace materials from clothing recovered in forensic enquiries. Fragrances have significant potential as a form of trace evidence as they are invisible to the naked eye, are readily absorbed by skin and clothing, and can be transferred between clothing and/or skin. With a high number of people wearing perfume, and with a very reproducible analytical technique, such as GC-MS, analysis of fragrances from garments can potentially aid in the investigation of crimes that involve close contact between individuals. A clear crime type that could benefit from perfume analysis to establish whether contact has taken place is sexual assault, given the proximity of offender and victim during such a crime.

Aims of research: The main aim of this study is to establish whether fragrance could be a viable form of trace evidence for crime reconstructions. To fully harness the potential of fragrances, it is imperative that an understanding of the evidence dynamics is achieved to inform the collection, analysis, interpretation and presentation of this form of evidence.

Methodology: Using GC-MS, samples of transferred perfume will be analysed to obtain insight into how factors like fabric type, environmental conditions (air movement, temperature) and length of time from garment contact to evidence analysis affect the transfer and persistence of perfume trace materials. This research will have important implications for forensic science, as it offers the means to develop an empirical evidence base to allow the inference of the significance and weight of perfume transfer evidence in applied settings.