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Science & Justice
Journal Prestige (SJR): 1.033
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  Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
ISSN (Print) 1355-0306
Published by Elsevier Homepage  [3163 journals]
  • Isolation and characterisation of a novel sildenafil analogue adulterant,
           desmethylpiperazinyl propoxysildenafil, in a dietary supplement
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 17 July 2018Source: Science & JusticeAuthor(s): Ji Hyun Lee, Han Na Park, Aeran Jung, Suresh Mandava, Seong Soo Park, Jongkook Lee, Hoil Kang A new sildenafil analogue was detected during routine screening of dietary supplements suspected to be adulterated with an erectile dysfunction drug(s) using HPLC-DAD. The UV spectrum of this compound was highly similar to that of sildenafil and almost identical to that of desmethylpiperazinyl sildenafil. The analogue was purified by using semi-preparative HPLC and structurally elucidated by performing mass spectrometric and NMR spectroscopic experiments. The spectral data revealed that this sildenafil analogue bears an n-propoxy group instead of an ethoxy group and possesses no methylpiperazinyl moiety. The isolated compound, structure of which was further confirmed by spectral comparison with synthetic one, was thus named as desmethylpiperazinyl propoxysildenafil.
  • Investigation of infinite focus microscopy for the determination of the
           association of blood with fingermarks
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 10 July 2018Source: Science & JusticeAuthor(s): L. Deininger, S. Francese, M.R. Clench, G. Langenburg, V. Sears, C. Sammon The determination of the type of deposition mechanism of blood within fingermarks at the scene of violent crimes is of great importance for the reconstruction of the bloodshed dynamics. However, to date, evaluation still relies on the subjective visual examination of experts. Practitioners encounter three types of scenarios in which blood may be found in fingermarks and they refer to the following three deposition mechanisms: (i) blood marks, originating from a bloodied fingertip; (ii) marks in blood, originating from a clean fingertip contacting a blood contaminated surface; (iii) coincidental deposition mechanisms, originating from a clean fingertip contacting a clean surface, leaving a latent fingermark, and subsequent contamination with blood.. The authors hypothesised that, due to differences in distribution of blood in the furrows and on the ridges, the height of blood depositions on the ridges and furrows (and their relative proportions), will differ significantly across the three depositions mechanisms. A second hypothesis was made that the differences would be significant and consistent enough to exploit their measurement as a quantitative and objective way to differentiate the deposition mechanisms.In recent years, infinite focus microscopy (IFM) has been developed, allowing for the computational generation of a 3D image of the topology of a sample via acquisition of images on multiple focal planes. On these bases, it was finally hypothesised that the application of this technique would allow the distinction of deposition mechanisms (i) to (iii) A set of preliminary experiments were designed to test whether IFM was “fit for purpose” and, subsequently, to test if any of the three deposition mechanisms scenarios could be differentiated. Though IFM enabled the analysis of tape lifted samples with some success, for samples produced and analysed directly on the surface of deposition, the results show that the measurements from any scenario will be highly dependent on the original surface of deposition (both in terms of its nature and of the variable exposure to environment); as crime scenes exhibit a wide range of possible relevant surfaces of deposition, the technique showed to not have the desired wide appeal for inclusion into a standardised set of protocols within a routine crime scene workflow.Graphical abstractUnlabelled Image
  • Corrigendum to ‘Questions, propositions and assessing different levels
           of evidence: Forensic voice comparison in practice’
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 9 July 2018Source: Science & JusticeAuthor(s): Vincent Hughes, Richard Rhodes
  • Study of the adhesion of explosive residues to the finger and transfer to
           clothing and luggage
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 July 2018Source: Science & JusticeAuthor(s): Heidi Lees, Félix Zapata, Merike Vaher, Carmen García-Ruiz It is important to understand the extent of transfer of explosive particles to different surfaces in order to better evaluate potential cross-contamination by explosives in crowded security controls such as those at airports. This work investigated the transfer of nine explosive residues (ANFO, dynamite, black powder, TNT, HMTD, PETN, NH4NO3, KNO3, NaClO3) through fingerprints from one surface to another. First, the extent of adhesion of explosive residues from different surfaces to the bare finger, nitrile and latex gloves was studied. Then, the transfer of explosive residues from one surface to another through fingerprints was investigated. Cotton fabric (hereinafter referred to as cotton) as clothing material and polycarbonate plastic (hereinafter referred to as polycarbonate) as luggage material were chosen for the experiments. These surfaces containing explosive particles were imaged using a reflex camera before and after the particles were transferred. Afterwards the images were processed in MATLAB where pixels corresponding to explosive residues were quantified. Results demonstrated that transfer of explosive residues frequently occurred with certain differences among materials. Generally, the amount of explosive particles adhered to the finger decreased in the following order: skin>latex>nitrile, while the transfer of particles from the finger to another surface was the opposite. The adhesion of explosive residues from polycarbonate to the finger was found to be better compared to cotton, while the amount of particles transferred to cotton was higher.
  • A review of the historical use and criticisms of gait analysis evidence
    • Abstract: Publication date: July 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 4Author(s): Michael Nirenberg, Wesley Vernon, Ivan Birch The use of gait analysis is a well-established facet of practice for many professions and a fundamental aspect of clinical practice. In recent times, gait analysis evidence has emerged as a new area of forensic practice. As its use has continued to spread and develop, the area of work has come under close scrutiny and subsequent criticism. The purpose of this paper is to examine the historical use of gait analysis evidence and consider the criticisms of this work. Through the use of the historical records of cases within the public domain it has been determined that gait analysis as evidence was first presented in court over 175 years ago, although it has only been utilized by experts in more recent times. The quality of analysis underpinning such evidence has been variable, and has been undertaken by both non-expert and expert witnesses. The work undertaken by expert witnesses appears to have been both non-scientific and scientific in nature, though there is limited reporting of cases involving scientific approaches. Given the variation in the quality of the methodologies utilized, there is the potential for confusion within the courts, where it may be difficult for the judge or jury to determine the appropriate weight that can be attributed to the evidence. It is concluded that future publications should explore the scientific basis of forensic gait analysis to evaluate standards, reliability and validity, as well as reporting the methodologies utilized in relevant cases in the field. It is also recommended that courts consider in greater depth an expert's theoretical approach and experience prior to admitting their evidence. The publication of ‘Forensic gait analysis: a primer for courts’, although limited in some aspects of its consideration of practice, is a welcome addition to the information available for guidance.
  • Biological sex variation in bone mineral density in the cranium and femur
    • Abstract: Publication date: July 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 4Author(s): Anna Paschall, Ann H. Ross ObjectivesSex and age trends in bone mineral density (BMD) play an important role in the estimation of age-at-death (AAD) of unidentified human remains. Current methodologies lack the ability to precisely estimate age in older individuals. In this study, BMD of the cranium and femur measured by DXA were examined to establish their applicability for age estimation in older adults. BMD as measured by DXA, is most commonly used clinically for prediction of osteoporotic fracture risk. We hypothesized that weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing bones, the femur and cranium, respectively, would provide valuable insights for aging.MethodsThe sample consists of 32 sets of excised cranial fragments from the Regional Forensic Center, Johnson City, Tennessee and 41 associated crania and femora from the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. All crania and femora were scanned using a Hologic (R) DXA scanner and data were analyzed using Student t-tests, Loess regression, and ANOVA.ResultsStudent t-tests indicate a significant relationship between the sexes and cranial BMD and a significant relationship between age cohorts and femoral neck BMD. The Loess regression showed different aging patterns in the cranium for females and males older than 55. And the ANOVA showed changes in femoral neck after age 55.ConclusionsThese results indicate age and sex dependent changes in BMD especially for individuals over the age of 55, which offers improvement from current aging methods for older individuals. Further research using a larger sample size could improve the predictive capabilities of the model.
  • The use of the M-Vac® wet-vacuum system as a method for DNA recovery
    • Abstract: Publication date: July 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 4Author(s): Toby Vickar, Katherine Bache, Barbara Daniel, Nunzianda Frascione Collecting sufficient template DNA from a crime scene sample is often challenging, especially with low quantity samples such as touch DNA (tDNA). Traditional DNA collection methods such as double swabbing have limitations, in particular when used on certain substrates which can be found at crime scenes, thus a better collection method is advantageous. Here, the effectiveness of the M-Vac® Wet-Vacuum System is evaluated as a method for DNA recovery on tiles and bricks. It was found that the M-Vac® recovered 75% more DNA than double swabbing on bricks. However, double swabbing collected significantly more DNA than the M-Vac® on tiles. Additionally, it was found that cell-free DNA is lost in the filtration step of M-Vac® collection. In terms of peak height and number of true alleles detected, no significant difference was found between the DNA profiles obtained through M-Vac® collection versus double swabbing of tDNA depositions from 12 volunteers on bricks. The results demonstrate that the M-Vac® has potential for DNA collection from porous surfaces such as bricks, but that alterations to the filter apparatus would be beneficial to increase the amount of genetic material collected for subsequent DNA profiling. These results are anticipated to be a starting point to validate the M-Vac® as a DNA collection device, providing an alternative method when DNA is present on a difficult substrate, or if traditional DNA collection methods have failed.
  • Background survey of polyethylene in the Australian Capital Territory –
           A demonstration of variability in isotopic abundance values and their
           application to forensic casework
    • Abstract: Publication date: July 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 4Author(s): Kylie Jones, Felicity Koens, Timothy Simpson Plastics including adhesive tapes, cable ties, and packaging are common evidence types encountered in forensic investigations and casework. Traditional examination techniques such as Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy lack specificity and are unable to discern differences within the same polymer structures leaving the analyst with a generic identification. High quality manufacturing methods further amplify the limitations in detecting variability between samples. Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS) has been shown to be a valuable technique in further discriminating plastics. Discrimination is achieved by analysing the relative abundances of stable isotopes within a sample, with differences detected in isotope ratios possibly attributed to the source of raw materials and fractionation during the manufacturing process. A survey of cling wraps and re-sealable zipper storage bags collected in the Australian Capital Territory was undertaken to assess the variability in carbon and hydrogen isotope ratios of different brands and samples. The results of this research are discussed, particularly with respect to within and between brand trends, and a case study is presented as an example of the value of including IRMS in a casework context.
  • The influence of alcohol content variation in UK packaged beers on the
           uncertainty of calculations using the Widmark equation
    • Abstract: Publication date: July 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 4Author(s): Peter D. Maskell, Calum Holmes, Margaux Huismann, Struan Reid, Martin Carr, Benjamin J. Jones, Dawn L. Maskell It is common for forensic practitioners to calculate an individual's likely blood alcohol concentration following the consumption of alcoholic beverage(s) for legal purposes, such as in driving under the influence (DUI) cases. It is important in these cases to be able to give the uncertainty of measurement on any calculated result, for this reason uncertainty data for the variables used for any calculation are required. In order to determine the uncertainty associated with the alcohol concentration of beer in the UK the alcohol concentration (%v/v) of 218 packaged beers (112 with an alcohol concentration of ≤5.5%v/v and 106 with an alcohol concentration of>5.5%v/v) were tested using an industry standard near infra-red (NIR) analyser. The range of labelled beer alcohol by volume (ABV's) tested was 3.4%v/v – 14%v/v. The beers were obtained from a range of outlets throughout the UK over a period of 12 months. The root mean square error (RMSE) was found to be ±0.43%v/v (beers with declared %ABV of ≤5.5%v/v) and ±0.53%v/v (beers with declared %ABV of>5.5%v/v) the RMSE for all beers was ±0.48%v/v. The standard deviation from the declared %ABV is larger than those previously utilised for uncertainty calculations and illustrates the importance of appropriate experimental data for use in the determination of uncertainty in forensic calculations.
  • Application of mesocellular siliceous foams (MCF) for surface-assisted
           laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry (SALDI-MS) Analysis of
    • Abstract: Publication date: July 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 4Author(s): R.M. Barros, M.C.H. Clemente, G.A.V. Martins, L.P. Silva Recent advances in nanotechnology applied in forensic sciences have contributed to consider new approaches including chemical evaluation of latent fingermarks. Significant improvement to the detection of small organic molecules has been reached with matrix-free methods associated to laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry. The present study investigated the application of mesocellular siliceous foam (MCF) as an ionizing agent for laser desorption/ionization (LDI-MS) analysis of fingermarks as a proof of concept research. Fingermarks from three different donors were deposited directly onto a MALDI target plate and α-CHCA matrix solution, MCF ethanolic suspension or MCF/magnetic powder mixture were used for treatment. Microscopy characterization of MCF support showed particles with irregular morphology and variable sizes, and a unordered porous surface with pores diameter ranging from about 10 to 20 nm. Results showed less intense peaks in the spectra produced by the MCF support (control). Analysis of fingermarks showed ions related to endogenous and exogenous molecular components, including possible lipids from human sebum and quaternary ammonium cations commonly present in cosmetics. Promising and reproducible results were obtained for the fingermarks dusted with the MCF/magnetic powder mixture. Considering the forensic applications of nanomaterials for the analysis of small molecules in biological samples by matrix-free LDI techniques, the advantages of silica based materials should be further investigated.
  • Questions, propositions and assessing different levels of evidence:
           Forensic voice comparison in practice
    • Abstract: Publication date: July 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 4Author(s): Vincent Hughes, Richard Rhodes This paper contributes to the ongoing discussion about the distinction between observations and propositions in forensic inference, with a specific focus on forensic voice comparison casework conducted in the UK. We outline both linguistic and legal issues which make the evaluation of voice evidence and the refinement of propositions problematic in practice, and illustrate these using case examples. We will argue that group-level observations from the offender sample will always be evidential and that the value of this evidence must be determined by the expert. As such, a proposal is made that experts should, at least conceptually, think of voice evidence as having two levels, both with evidential value: group-level and individual-level. The two rely on different underlying assumptions, and the group-level observations can be used to inform the individual-level propositions. However, for the sake of interpretability, it is probably preferable to present only one combined conclusion to the end user. We also wish to reiterate points made in previous work: in providing conclusions, the forensic expert must acknowledge that the value of the evidence is dependent on a number of assumptions (propositions and background information) and these assumptions must be made clear and explicit to the user.
  • Editorial
    • Abstract: Publication date: July 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 4Author(s): Lisa Smith
  • IFC: Editorial Board
    • Abstract: Publication date: July 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 4Author(s):
  • BM1: Events Guide
    • Abstract: Publication date: July 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 4Author(s):
  • Regulation: What is there not to like'
    • Abstract: Publication date: July 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 4Author(s): Martin Paul Evison
  • BM2: Council Information
    • Abstract: Publication date: July 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 4Author(s):
  • Reply to letter to the editor: Response to “A study of the perception of
           verbal expressions of the strength of evidence”
    • Abstract: Publication date: July 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 4Author(s): James French, Eleanor Arscott, Ruth Morgan, Georgina Meakin
  • The effect of mark enhancement techniques on the presumptive and
           confirmatory tests for blood
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 30 June 2018Source: Science & JusticeAuthor(s): Vanessa Stewart, Paul Deacon, Nathalie Zahra, Mari L. Uchimoto, Kevin J. Farrugia An investigation into the effects of physical and chemical enhancement on subsequent presumptive and confirmatory tests for human blood is presented. Human blood was deposited onto porous (white 80 gsm paper and brown envelope) and non-porous (tile and linoleum) substrates in a depletion series (30 depletions on non-porous and 20 on porous) and subjected to three ageing periods; 1, 7 and 28 days. A number of enhancement techniques were tested [fluorescence, black magnetic powder (BMP), iron-oxide black powder suspension (PS), cyanoacrylate (CA) fuming, acid violet 17 (AV17), acid yellow 7 (AY7), ninhydrin, DFO and Bluestar Forensic Magnum (BFM) luminol] to evaluate their potential effects on subsequent presumptive and confirmatory tests. AV17 and Bluestar provided the best enhancement and fully enhanced all depletions in the series. The sensitivity of the Kastle-Meyer (KM) (presumptive), Takayama and RSID-Blood tests (confirmatory) was initially investigated to determine the range of detectable depletions. The KM test detected all depletions, whereas the Takayama test detected up to depletion 6 and RSID-Blood detected up to depletion 20 (paper), 10 (envelope), 15 (tile) and 9 (lino). The abilities of these tests to detect blood after enhancement were then observed.A number of techniques resulted in little to no effect on any of the blood tests, whereas adverse effects were observed for others. Ninhydrin and CA fuming caused weak but instantaneous positive KM results whereas methanol-based AV17 and AY7 delayed the reaction by as much as 1 min. The Takayama test was not very sensitive, therefore, its performance was easily affected by enhancement and negative results were often observed. RSID-Blood tests were largely unaffected by chemical enhancement although a drop in positive results was observed for some of the techniques when compared to positive controls.Using a standard procedure for DNA extraction, all the tested blood samples (before and after enhancement) gave a detectable quantity of DNA and were successfully profiled. Out of the 45 samples processed for DNA profiling, 41 gave full profiles, while the remaining showed allele drop out in one or two loci.
  • A comparative study of standing fleshed foot and walking and jumping bare
           footprint measurements
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 June 2018Source: Science & JusticeAuthor(s): Nicolas Howsam, Andrew Bridgen Approximating true fleshed foot length and forefoot width from crime scene footprints is primarily based on anecdotal observations and fails to consider effects of different dynamic activities on footprint morphology. A literature search revealed numerous variables influencing footprint formation including whether the print was formed statically or dynamically. The aim of this study was to investigate if length and width measurements of the fleshed foot differ to the same measurements collected from walking and jumping footprints.Measurements of standing right foot length and forefoot width were collected from thirteen participants. Walking and jumping right footprints were then obtained using an Inkless Shoeprint Kit and digitally measured with GNU Image Manipulation Programme. Descriptive analysis compared standing fleshed foot length and forefoot width against the same measurements taken from walking and jumping footprints with and without ghosting.Results suggested walking footprint length with ghosting (x¯ = 268.61 mm) was greater than standing fleshed foot length (x¯ = 264.3 mm) and jumping footprint length with ghosting (x¯ = 261.57 mm). However, standing fleshed foot length was found to be greater than walking (x¯ = 254.85 mm) or jumping (x¯ = 255.63 mm) footprint lengths without ghosting. Forefoot widths showed standing fleshed foot width (x¯ = 105.66 mm) was greater than walking (x¯ = 95.63 mm) or jumping (x¯ = 98.03 mm) footprint widths. This study identifies variation in measurements of the standing fleshed foot and those of walking and jumping footprints, including variability between different dynamic states.
  • Post-mortem interval estimation based on insect evidence in a quasi-indoor
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 12 June 2018Source: Science & JusticeAuthor(s): Szymon Matuszewski, Anna Mądra-Bielewicz Insects collected on indoor cadavers are frequently used for post-mortem interval (PMI) estimation. Buildings encountered during crime investigations vary according to temperatures inside, the extent of insect access restriction or sanitary conditions. This article reports the PMI oriented analyses of insect evidence sampled from the human cadaver in the atypical indoor habitat. The body was found in the uninhabited house, on the floor covered with rubbish, in the room with no doors and windows. Thermal conditions in the room were less variable than in the local weather station, however still much more variable compared to the typical indoor habitat, indicating the need for retrospective correction of temperature records from the station. Cadaver entomofauna was surprisingly diverse and abundant. We recorded several taxa usually not occurring on indoor cadavers, e.g. immature stages of Necrodes littoralis (Coleoptera: Silphidae) or Stearibia nigriceps (Diptera: Piophilidae). PMI was based on the age and the pre-appearance interval estimated for live puparium of S. nigriceps, giving the total interval of 37 (±7.4) days plus 4–20 days resulting from the absence of first colonizing specimens of the species. This estimate was corroborated with the age estimate for empty puparia of Sarcophaga argyrostoma (Diptera: Sarcophagidae) with traces of Nasonia sp. (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae) eclosion. Other insects indicated shorter but consistent PMI. Difficulties and limitations of insect-based PMI estimations in unusual indoor habitats are discussed.
  • Better science for better justice: A proposal for joint experts
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 11 June 2018Source: Science & JusticeAuthor(s): Itiel Dror, Bridget McCormack, Jules Epstein
  • From unknown to known: Identification of the remains at the mausoleum of
           fosse Ardeatine
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 24 May 2018Source: Science & JusticeAuthor(s): Elena Pilli, Silvia Boccone, Alessandro Agostino, Antonino Virgili, Giancarlo D'Errico, Martina Lari, Cesare Rapone, Filippo Barni, Jacopo Moggi Cecchi, Andrea Berti, David Caramelli During the Second World War, on 24th March 1944, 335 Italians were massacred near Rome by the occupying forces of Nazi Germany. Four months later forensic examination led to the identification of 323 out of 335 victims. After approximately 60 years, the identification of the remaining unidentified twelve victims began with anthropological and genetic analysis carried out by a team of Italian forensic experts. Anthropological analysis was performed in field in order to confirm the sex of each victim and verify the presence of only one individual in each grave for a correct sampling. Selected bone fragments for each individual were then collected and transferred to the laboratory for genetic analysis. Although the anthropological ante mortem information was limited, morphological and metrical data was collected for a possible future identification of the victims. Subsequently, the typing of autosomal loci, Y-STR and mtDNA D-loop region of all bone and available reference samples was conducted. LR and cumulative LRs obtained from autosomal STR and Y-STR results confirmed the alleged relationship between three victims and their relatives with values over 104 (one sample) and 106 (two samples). Therefore, the genetic analysis offered the families the possibility of replacing the number of the grave with the name of the victim.
  • Fingermark visualisation on metal surfaces: An initial investigation of
           the influence of surface condition on process effectiveness
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 12 May 2018Source: Science & JusticeAuthor(s): M. Pitera, V.G. Sears, S.M. Bleay, S. Park Fingermark recovery from metal surfaces is an area of operational interest, both from the association of metals with weapons used in violent crime and from the increasing incidence in metal theft. This paper reports a feasibility study into the effectiveness of a range of fingermark visualisation processes in developing fingermarks on clean metals (brass, bronze and stainless steel), and on the same metals after prolonged exposure to an outdoor environment. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was used to investigate how the surface type and condition could influence the development of fingermarks for each of the processes used. It was found that the behaviour observed varied between each of the processes (cyanoacrylate fuming, Lumicyano™, gun blueing and carbon-based powder suspension). In some cases the chemical composition of the surface affected the development of the mark more than the surface condition, and in other cases the reverse was true. The best performing processes differed according to the surface type and condition, with cyanoacrylate fuming processes working best on brass and bronze, and powder suspensions being better on stainless steel. These preliminary results reinforce the need to take into account both surface type and condition before selection of the most effective fingermark visualisation process and demonstrate the value of techniques such as SEM in developing a fundamental understanding of the interactions between fingermarks and surfaces.
  • Forensic DNA retention: Public perspective studies in the United Kingdom
           and around the world
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 8 May 2018Source: Science & JusticeAuthor(s): Aaron Opoku Amankwaa This review analysed public perspective studies on forensic DNA retention in the United Kingdom and around the world. The studies generally show strong public support for the long-term or indefinite retention of DNA from convicts and suspects. There is considerable support for the retention of DNA from all or some arrestees and potentially the entire population. This was predicated upon the belief that forensic DNA databases have crime-solving abilities, which the public rate highly. In the UK, it was found that the current Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 regime is broadly representative of the recommendations of the surveyed British public. Nevertheless, the studies highlighted a gap in forensic DNA education among the public, suggesting that public views may not be well informed. Overall, there was clear evidence of privacy concerns and the potential misuse of DNA records among the public, with a significant number opposing the retention of DNA from the innocent. It was found that most of the studies were qualitative or non-representative of the relevant population, limiting the generalisation of the results. There was also limited studies among a representative sample of primary stakeholders who are well-informed or directly exposed to the benefits, challenges and risks associated with DNA retention. A research into stakeholders rating of different forensic DNA retention regimes is therefore highly recommended. This is important because the studies suggest divergent views among criminal justice professionals and other members of the public, with the former expressing expansive views and the latter expressing restrictive views. The primary stakeholder's survey will help establish whether the relevant safeguards have been put in place to protect both public security and individual interests.
  • The United Kingdom and Ireland association of forensic toxicologists
           forensic toxicology laboratory guidelines (2018)
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 4 May 2018Source: Science & JusticeAuthor(s): Simon P. Elliott, Duncan W.S. Stephen, Sue Paterson In 2010, the United Kingdom and Ireland Association of Forensic Toxicologists (UKIAFT) created forensic toxicology laboratory guidelines. This represents a revision of those guidelines as a result of the changing toxicological and technical landscape.
  • Decision support for using mobile rapid DNA analysis at the crime scene
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 4 May 2018Source: Science & JusticeAuthor(s): A.A. Mapes, R.D. Stoel, C.J. de Poot, P. Vergeer, M. Huyck Mobile Rapid DNA technology is close to being incorporated into crime scene investigations, with the potential to identify a perpetrator within hours. However, the use of these techniques entails the risk of losing the sample and potential evidence, because the device not only consumes the inserted sample, it is also is less sensitive than traditional technologies used in forensic laboratories. Scene of Crime Officers (SoCOs) therefore will face a ‘time/success rate trade-off’ issue when making a decision to apply this technology.In this study we designed and experimentally tested a Decision Support System (DSS) for the use of Rapid DNA technologies based on Rational Decision Theory (RDT). In a vignette study, where SoCOs had to decide on the use of a Rapid DNA analysis device, participating SoCOs were assigned to either the control group (making decisions under standard conditions), the Success Rate (SR) group (making decisions with additional information on DNA success rates of traces), or the DSS group (making decisions supported by introduction to RDT, including information on DNA success rates of traces).This study provides positive evidence that a systematic approach for decision-making on using Rapid DNA analysis assists SoCOs in the decision to use the rapid device. The results demonstrated that participants using a DSS made different and more transparent decisions on the use of Rapid DNA analysis when different case characteristics were explicitly considered. In the DSS group the decision to apply Rapid DNA analysis was influenced by the factors “time pressure” and “trace characteristics” like DNA success rates. In the SR group, the decisions depended solely on the trace characteristics and in the control group the decisions did not show any systematic differences on crime type or trace characteristic.Guiding complex decisions on the use of Rapid DNA analyses with a DSS could be an important step towards the use of these devices at the crime scene.
  • Impact of aging on fingerprint ridge density: Anthropometry and forensic
           implications in sex inference
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 May 2018Source: Science & JusticeAuthor(s): Angeles Sánchez-Andrés, José Antonio Barea, Noemí Rivaldería, Concepción Alonso-Rodríguez, Esperanza Gutiérrez-Redomero The variation in the epidermal ridge's width between the sexes, during various growth stages, and among different populations has been previously assessed. However, the changes that occur with aging are barely known.The goal of this study was to analyse the degree of variation in epidermal ridge width due to aging. So that, fingerprint ridge density was estimated to establish their relationship with body and hand size changes that typically occur in adulthood.In this study, a sample of 213 adults of both sexes from a Spanish native population of different age ranges—18–30 years old (“junior” group) and 50–66 years old (“senior” group)—was used. Ridge density was assessed in three counting areas of the distal phalanx of each finger (radial, ulnar, and proximal). Height, weight, and a set of anthropometric measurements for both hands were also taken.Our results show that ridge density is higher in females than males throughout adulthood and decreases with aging in the radial and ulnar areas (as the hands widen) but not in the proximal region. Thus, a relationship between hand dimensions and ridge density was found.The data indicate that aging changes may conceal the recognized sex differences in ridge density, and so a better understanding of the topological variations in the epidermal ridge width throughout the life cycle and the factors involved would facilitate the interpretation of the differences between the sexes and different age groups.
  • Are DNA data a valid source to study the spatial behavior of unknown
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 2 May 2018Source: Science & JusticeAuthor(s): Sabine De Moor, Christophe Vandeviver, Tom Vander Beken Studying the spatial behaviour of unknown offenders (i.e. undetected offenders) is difficult, because police recorded crime data do not contain information about these offenders. Recently, forensic DNA data has been used to study unknown offenders. However, DNA data are only a subset of the crimes committed by unknown offenders stored in police recorded crime data. To establish the suitability of DNA data for studying the spatial offending behaviour of unknown offenders, we examine the concentration and spatial similarity of detected but unsolved crimes in police recorded crime data (N = 181,483) and DNA data (N = 1913) over 27 Belgian judicial districts for four crime types. We established spatial similarity for certain crime types (in some districts). This offers opportunities for DNA data to be used to study unknown offenders' spatial offending behaviour. Implications for theory and research are discussed.
  • Persistence of spermatozoa: lessons learned from going to the sources
    • Abstract: Publication date: May 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 3Author(s): James DiFrancesco, Elizabeth Richards
  • A new method for the recovery and evidential comparison of footwear
           impressions using 3D structured light scanning
    • Abstract: Publication date: May 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 3Author(s): T.J.U. Thompson, P. Norris Footwear impressions are one of the most common forms of evidence to be found at a crime scene, and can potentially offer the investigator a wealth of intelligence. Our aim is to highlight a new and improved technique for the recovery of footwear impressions, using three-dimensional structured light scanning. Results from this preliminary study demonstrate that this new approach is non-destructive, safe to use and is fast, reliable and accurate. Further, since this is a digital method, there is also the option of digital comparison between items of footwear and footwear impressions, and an increased ability to share recovered footwear impressions between forensic staff thus speeding up the investigation.
  • The detection of metallic residues in skin stab wounds by means of
           SEM-EDS: A pilot study
    • Abstract: Publication date: May 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 3Author(s): Elisa Palazzo, Alberto Amadasi, Michele Boracchi, Guendalina Gentile, Francesca Maciocco, Matteo Marchesi, Riccardo Zoja The morphological analysis of stab wounds may often not be accurate enough to link it with the type of wounding weapon, but a further evaluation may be performed with the search for metallic residues left during the contact between the instrument and the skin. In this study, Scanning Electron Microscopy-Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (SEM-EDS) was applied to the study of cadaveric stab wounds performed with kitchen knives composed of iron, chromium and nickel, in order to verify the presence of metallic residues on the wound's edge. Two groups of 10 corpses were selected: group A, including victims of stab wounds and a control group B (died of natural causes). Samplings were performed on the lesions and in intact areas of group A, whereas in group B sampling were performed in non-exposed intact skin. Samples were then analysed with optical microscopy and SEM-EDS. In group A, optical microscopic analysis showed the presence of vital haemorrhagic infiltration, while SEM-EDS showed evidence of microscopic metal traces, isolated or clustered, consisting of iron, chromium and nickel. Moreover, in two cases organic residues of calcium and phosphate were detected, as a probable sign of bone lesion. Control samples (group A in intact areas and group B), were negative for the search of exogenous material to optical microscopy and SEM-EDS. The results show the utility and possible application of the SEM-EDS in theidentification of metallic residues from sharp weapons on the skin.
  • Contextual information management: An example of independent-checking in
           the review of laboratory-based bloodstain pattern analysis
    • Abstract: Publication date: May 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 3Author(s): Nikola K.P. Osborne, Michael C. Taylor This article describes a New Zealand forensic agency's contextual information management protocol for bloodstain pattern evidence examined in the laboratory. In an effort to create a protocol that would have minimal impact on current work-flow, while still effectively removing task-irrelevant contextual information, the protocol was designed following an in-depth consultation with management and forensic staff. The resulting design was for a protocol of independent-checking (i.e. blind peer-review) where the checker's interpretation of the evidence is conducted in the absence of case information and the original examiner's notes or interpretation(s). At the conclusion of a ten-case trial period, there was widespread agreement that the protocol had minimal impact on the number of people required, the cost, or the time to complete an item examination. The agency is now looking to adopt the protocol into standard operating procedures and in some cases the protocol has been extended to cover other laboratory-based examinations (e.g. fabric damage, shoeprint examination, and physical fits). The protocol developed during this trial provides a useful example for agencies seeking to adopt contextual information management into their workflow.
  • The use of a quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) model to
           predict GABA-A receptor binding of newly emerging benzodiazepines
    • Abstract: Publication date: May 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 3Author(s): Laura Waters, Kieran R. Manchester, Peter D. Maskell, Caroline Haegeman, Shozeb Haider The illicit market for new psychoactive substances is forever expanding. Benzodiazepines and their derivatives are one of a number of groups of these substances and thus far their number has grown year upon year. For both forensic and clinical purposes it is important to be able to rapidly understand these emerging substances. However as a consequence of the illicit nature of these compounds, there is a deficiency in the pharmacological data available for these ‘new’ benzodiazepines. In order to further understand the pharmacology of ‘new’ benzodiazepines we utilised a quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) approach. A set of 69 benzodiazepine-based compounds was analysed to develop a QSAR training set with respect to published binding values to GABAA receptors. The QSAR model returned an R2 value of 0.90. The most influential factors were found to be the positioning of two H-bond acceptors, two aromatic rings and a hydrophobic group. A test set of nine random compounds was then selected for internal validation to determine the predictive ability of the model and gave an R2 value of 0.86 when comparing the binding values with their experimental data. The QSAR model was then used to predict the binding for 22 benzodiazepines that are classed as new psychoactive substances. This model will allow rapid prediction of the binding activity of emerging benzodiazepines in a rapid and economic way, compared with lengthy and expensive in vitro/in vivo analysis. This will enable forensic chemists and toxicologists to better understand both recently developed compounds and prediction of substances likely to emerge in the future.
  • Avoiding overstating the strength of forensic evidence: Shrunk likelihood
           ratios/Bayes factors
    • Abstract: Publication date: May 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 3Author(s): Geoffrey Stewart Morrison, Norman Poh When strength of forensic evidence is quantified using sample data and statistical models, a concern may be raised as to whether the output of a model overestimates the strength of evidence. This is particularly the case when the amount of sample data is small, and hence sampling variability is high. This concern is related to concern about precision. This paper describes, explores, and tests three procedures which shrink the value of the likelihood ratio or Bayes factor toward the neutral value of one. The procedures are: (1) a Bayesian procedure with uninformative priors, (2) use of empirical lower and upper bounds (ELUB), and (3) a novel form of regularized logistic regression. As a benchmark, they are compared with linear discriminant analysis, and in some instances with non-regularized logistic regression. The behaviours of the procedures are explored using Monte Carlo simulated data, and tested on real data from comparisons of voice recordings, face images, and glass fragments.
  • Single source DNA profile recovery from single cells isolated from skin
           and fabric from touch DNA mixtures in mock physical assaults
    • Abstract: Publication date: May 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 3Author(s): Katherine Farash, Erin K. Hanson, Jack Ballantyne The ability to obtain DNA profiles from trace biological evidence is routinely demonstrated with so-called ‘touch DNA evidence’, which is generally perceived to be the result of DNA obtained from shed skin cells transferred from a donor's hands to an object or person during direct physical contact. Current methods for the recovery of trace DNA employ swabs or adhesive tape to sample an area of interest. While of practical utility, such ‘blind-swabbing’ approaches will necessarily co-sample cellular material from the different individuals whose cells are present on the item, even though the individuals' cells are principally located in topographically dispersed, but distinct, locations on the item. Thus the act of swabbing itself artifactually creates some of the DNA mixtures encountered in touch DNA samples. In some instances involving transient contact between an assailant and victim, the victim's DNA may be found in such significant excess as to preclude the detection and typing of the perpetrator's DNA. In order to circumvent the challenges with standard recovery and analysis methods for touch DNA evidence, we reported previously the development of a ‘smart analysis’ single cell recovery and DNA analysis method that results in enhanced genetic analysis of touch DNA evidence. Here we use the smart single cell analysis method to recover probative single source profiles from individual and agglomerated cells from various touched objects and clothing items belonging to known donors. We then use the same approach for the detection of single source male donor DNA in simulated physical contact/assault mixture samples (i.e. male ‘assailant’ grabbing the wrist, neck or clothing from the female ‘victim’, or being in transient contact with bedding from the ‘victim’). DNA profiles attributable to the male or female known donors were obtained from 31% and 35% of the single and agglomerated bio-particles (putative cells) tested. The known male donor ‘assailant’ DNA profile was identified in the cell sampling from every mixture type tested. The results of this work demonstrate the efficacy of an alternative strategy to recover single source perpetrator DNA profiles in physical contact/assault cases involving trace perpetrator/victim cellular admixtures.
  • Validation studies in forensic odontology – Part 1: Accuracy of
           radiographic matching
    • Abstract: Publication date: May 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 3Author(s): Mark Page, Russell Lain, Richard Kemp, Jane Taylor As part of a series of studies aimed at validating techniques in forensic odontology, this study aimed to validate the accuracy of ante-mortem (AM)/postmortem (PM) radiographic matching by dentists and forensic odontologists. This study used a web-based interface with 50 pairs of AM and PM radiographs from real casework, at varying degrees of difficulty. Participants were shown both radiographs as a pair and initially asked to decide if they represented the same individual using a yes/no binary choice forced-decision. Participants were asked to assess their level of confidence in their decision, and to make a conclusion using one of the ABFO (American Board of Forensic Odontology), INTERPOL (International Criminal Police Organisation) and DVISys™ (DVI System International, Plass Data Software) identification scale degrees. The mean false-positive rate using the binary choice scale was 12%. Overall accuracy was 89% using this model, however, 13% of participants scored below 80%. Only 25% of participants accurately answered yes or no> 90% of the time, with no individual making the correct yes/no decision for all 50 pairs of radiographs. Non-odontologists (lay participants) scored poorly, with a mean accuracy of only 60%. Use of the graded ABFO, DVISYS and INTERPOL scales resulted in general improvements in performance, with the false-positive and false-negative rates falling to approximately 2% overall. Inter-examiner agreement in assigning scale degrees was good (ICC = 0.64), however there was little correlation between confidence and both accuracy or agreement among practitioners. These results suggest that use of a non-binary scale is supported over a match/non-match call as it reduces the frequency of false positives and negatives. The use of the terms “possible” and “insufficient information” in the same scale appears to create confusion, reducing inter-examiner agreement. The lack of agreement between higher-performing and lower-performing groups suggests that there is an inconsistency in the cognitive processes used to determine similarity between radiographs.
  • The introduction of forensic advisors in Belgium and their role in the
           criminal justice system
    • Abstract: Publication date: May 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 3Author(s): Sonja Bitzer, Laetitia Heudt, Aurélie Barret, Lore George, Karolien Van Dijk, Fabrice Gason, Bertrand Renard Forensic advisors (FA) at the National Institute for Criminalistics and Criminology (NICC), generalists in forensic science, act as an advising body to the magistrate to improve communication between the various parties involved in the investigation: magistrate, police and crime scene investigators, and forensic experts. Their role is manifold, but their main objectives are to optimise trace processing by selecting the most pertinent traces in the context of the case and by advising magistrates on the feasibility of forensic analyses in particular circumstances in regards to the latest technical advances.Despite the absence of a legal framework governing their role and involvement in judicial cases, the demand for their services has increased over the years. Initially, forensic advisors were called for complex homicide cases. Due to the proximity with the Public Prosecutor's Office, the types of offences for which their expertise was sought have become more diverse (mainly including robbery, burglary and sexual assault cases), leading to a diversity in the types of cases handled by the forensic advisors (complex, simple and review).In many of the cases they are requested for, in addition to consulting on the best analytical strategy, forensic advisors also assume the role of case coordinator regarding the seized objects and their respective analyses. Indeed, in the majority of cases treated by the FAs, two or more types of expertise have been requested and performed, either at the internal laboratories of NICC or at external laboratories.This paper explains the role of the forensic advisors in Belgium, the path that let to their current status and problems encountered.
  • IFC: Editorial Board
    • Abstract: Publication date: May 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 3Author(s):
  • BM2: Council Information
    • Abstract: Publication date: May 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 3Author(s):
  • BM1: Events Guide
    • Abstract: Publication date: May 2018Source: Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 3Author(s):
  • Is Australia ready for fentanyl'
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 1 May 2018Source: Science & JusticeAuthor(s): Hugh E. McKeown, Trevor J. Rook, James R. Pearson, Oliver A.H. Jones
  • A preliminary assessment of the effect of PreCR™ DNA repair treatment on
           mixture ratios in two person mixtures
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 April 2018Source: Science & JusticeAuthor(s): David San Pietro, Franco Tagliaro, Michael S. Adamowicz In this study, DNA extracted from known buccal samples was combined into two component mixture samples. These were subjected to UV exposure prior to their amplification with the Promega PowerPlex® 16HS amplification kit, and subsequent capillary electrophoresis on the ABI 3130xl instrument. Damaged samples were subjected to enzymatic repair treatment and retested to assess the amount of repair. Data showed that there is fidelity associated with the application with profile concordance after its use, and a corresponding increase in the amount of recovered alleles post damage. Results also showed changes in the stochastic relationship between mixture components that appear to be induced by the repair process itself. The mixture ratios of DNA samples were altered from an approximate original 1:3 ratio, to a ratio of 1:2 or greater. This variation can have a significant effect regarding the ability to reliably de-convolute DNA mixtures that have been subjected to the repair process.
  • “I couldn't find it your honour, it mustn't be there!” – Tool
           errors, tool limitations and user error in digital forensics
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 17 April 2018Source: Science & JusticeAuthor(s): Graeme Horsman The field of digital forensics maintains significant reliance on the software it uses to acquire and investigate forms of digital evidence. Without these tools, analysis of digital devices would often not be possible. Despite such levels of reliance, techniques for validating digital forensic software are sparse and research is limited in both volume and depth. As practitioners pursue the goal of producing robust evidence, they face the onerous task of both ensuring the accuracy of their tools and, their effective use. Whilst tool errors provide one issue, establishing a tool's limitations also provides an investigatory challenge leading the potential for practitioner user-error and ultimately a grey area of accountability. This article debates the problems surrounding digital forensic tool usage, evidential reliability and validation.
  • A novel FTA™ elute card collection method that improves direct DNA
           amplification from bloodstained concrete
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 30 March 2018Source: Science & JusticeAuthor(s): Stephen G. Lipic, Lucille M. Giordullo, Jamie D. Fredericks Concrete is a common construction material found in residential and commercial buildings, bridges and parking lots that is a composite matrix containing aggregate held together with cement. The porous nature of concrete can make the collection and genotyping of biological fluids, such as blood, challenging. Forensic evidence can become embedded within the matrix, potentially reducing the amount of DNA available for analysis. In forensic science, “direct” amplification refers to a genotyping method that amplifies a DNA profile directly from a sample without DNA extraction, saving time and money. We investigated a novel application of Whatman™ FTA™ Elute cards in their ability to directly amplify PowerPlex® Fusion and Y23 profiles from minute amounts of blood that had been deposited on different concrete structures. In comparison to traditional collection methods, directly profiling blood stained construction materials using FTA™ Elute cards increased the percentage loci amplified and significantly improved both allele peak height and peak height ratio while reducing allelic drop-out. FTA™ Elute cards can provide a reliable, inexpensive and superior alternative to traditional methods.
School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences
Heriot-Watt University
Edinburgh, EH14 4AS, UK
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Fax: +00 44 (0)131 4513327
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