THE Scottish scientific team which recreated the face of the woman found in a shallow grave on Corstorphine Hill in Edinburgh is at the forefront of new forensic investigative techniques which are helping to capture paedophiles around the world.
Dundee University's Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) has pioneered a method to identify paedophiles in images showing them abusing children which are shared online.
While someone might try to hide their identity by being photographed from the neck down, for example, experts are able to pinpoint unique features of a hand, such as the shape of the fingers and nails, to match an image with a suspect.
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Professor Sue Black, professor of anatomy and forensic anthropology and director of CAHID, revealed the team is now dealing with around 10 to 15 such cases a year at the centre, which is the only place in the UK which offers the technique.
"At the moment when our evidence is presented, 80% of the cases change their plea to guilty," she said, adding that this meant young victims were spared the ordeal of going to court.
Matt Forde, head of NSPCC Scotland, said: "The work of the specialist forensic investigation team at Dundee University is an important development in helping to protect vulnerable children from this horrific abuse and the team is to be congratulated for its significant work in tackling the problem."
The Dundee centre will also launch a training programme in disaster victim identification internationally next year – it already trains police officers in the UK. This will make the centre the global go-to team in the event of earthquakes, plane crashes and tsunamis.
The centre's work will ensure that every country which is a member of Interpol is working to the same standards when it comes to retrieving and documenting human remains at a disaster site and trying to identify those who have died.
The identity of the woman found in a shallow grave on Edinburgh's Corstorphine Hill had remained a mystery for nearly a month.
But on Friday, within days of the facial reconstruction by Black's team being published, police were able to finally establish the name of the murder victim. Her identity will be revealed tomorrow after police have spoken with next of kin.
Detective Chief Inspector Keith Hardie described the image produced by experts at CAHID as the "last piece in the jigsaw".
It is the latest success for the centre, which has gained a global reputation for such work, producing similar pictures of historical figures including Mary, Queen of Scots, Robert Burns and Richard III based on CT scans.
Establishing the identity of the Corstorphine murder victim means police now can begin to piece together what happened to her.
Black, who has gained international recognition for her work, including investigation of war crimes in Kosovo and Iraq, said: "When you have a deceased person and you don't know who they are, it is one of the most difficult things for the police to investigate. If you don't know who the dead person is, you can't go and talk to friends, family, colleagues to try and figure out what has happened."
She said they deal with about 50 "challenging" murder cases a year across the UK, helping police when identification of a person is not a straightforward process.
Among high-profile cases Dundee has dealt with in recent years include that of former EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie, whose torso was found in a canal in east London in March 2012. McCluskie's brother was found guilty of her murder in January this year.
But Black said a large part of the centre's work deals with remains which turn out not to be human.
"When the weather gets better and people are out digging in their gardens, you would be amazed at the number of people who think they have found a dead body in the garden," she said. "But it turns out to be a dog or cat or a bit of barbecue or something like that. We do about 350 cases of those every single year at no charge to the police, as it gives our young anthropologists the opportunities to train."