As the 19th century gave way to the 20th century, the fight against crime grew more and more scientific as methods of detection came to rely more and more on emerging technology.
On Tuesday, 31st January, 1933, The Dundee Evening Telegraph published the following article which sung the praises of the latest weapon in the battle to identify criminals and bring them to justice – the microscopic camera.
MICROSCOPIC CRIME CAMERAS
THE LATEST THING IN DETECTION
Tracing Bullet to a Gun
“It will be remembered (writes a correspondent) that when Sherlock Holmes appeared on the scene of crime he invariably whipped out his magnifying glass, and made a rapid but searching examination of the cigar ash or the orange pips as the case might be.
He then astonished Watson by giving a complete biography of the murderer, and stating where he would be found on the following Tuesday.
THE MODERN THING IN CRIME INVESTIGATION
Modern detectives are not keen about using their lenses, mainly because the microscope experts do all there is to be done with the available clues.
The modern thing in crime investigation is microscopic crime cameras. These instruments have been in use in this country for the past six years.
HOW THEY WORK
Mr Robert Churchill, the Home Office and Scotland Yard gun expert, was at the opticians where the instruments are made when a press representative was shown how they worked.
The exhibits were bullets and cartridge cases from actual crimes, and it was impressive to see the loving care with which Mr Churchill placed them under this argus-eyed machine, and got them ready for photographing.
Sometimes he may spend days on getting this expert evidence ready.
Visitors to the British Industries Fair will be able to learn by actual experiment with this inanimate crime investigator how a bullet is traced to the gun which fired it, and how even cartridge cases and the breech of a revolver tell the tale to the microscope camera.
The method is really a parallel to the fingerprint system and enables Scotland Yard, in the person of Churchill, to identify any bullet with a particular weapon.
CAN BE USED WITH HAIRS
The microscope deals similarly with hairs, which, again, like finger-prints, are absolutely identifiable with a particular individual.
In a recent case, a hair found on a victim was traced to a suspect, and formed a final link in a chain of evidence.
These all-seeing eyes are now used by the police of many countries, and once Mr Churchill flew with an instrument of this type to India for an urgent investigation.”