for Journals by Title or ISSN
for Articles by Keywords
help
Journal Cover Science & Justice
  [SJR: 1.001]   [H-I: 30]   [415 followers]  Follow
    
   Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
   ISSN (Print) 1355-0306
   Published by Elsevier Homepage  [3177 journals]
  • Contextual information management: An example of independent-checking in
           the review of laboratory-based bloodstain pattern analysis
    • Authors: Nikola K.P. Osborne; Michael C. Taylor
      Pages: 226 - 231
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 16 January 2018
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(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.

      PubDate: 2018-04-15T10:32:18Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.01.001
      Issue No: Vol. 58, No. 3 (2018)
       
  • A new method for the recovery and evidential comparison of footwear
           impressions using 3D structured light scanning
    • Authors: T.J.U. Thompson; P. Norris
      Pages: 237 - 243
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 February 2018
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(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.

      PubDate: 2018-04-15T10:32:18Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.02.001
      Issue No: Vol. 58, No. 3 (2018)
       
  • Persistence of spermatozoa: lessons learned from going to the sources
    • Authors: James DiFrancesco; Elizabeth Richards
      Pages: 244 - 247
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 14 March 2018
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): James DiFrancesco, Elizabeth Richards


      PubDate: 2018-04-15T10:32:18Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.03.004
      Issue No: Vol. 58, No. 3 (2018)
       
  • Analysing and exemplifying forensic conclusion criteria in terms of
           Bayesian decision theory
    • Authors: A. Biedermann; S. Bozza; F. Taroni
      Pages: 159 - 165
      Abstract: Publication date: March 2018
      Source:Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 2
      Author(s): A. Biedermann, S. Bozza, F. Taroni
      There is ongoing discussion in forensic science and the law about the nature of the conclusions reached based on scientific evidence, and on how such conclusions – and conclusion criteria – may be justified by rational argument. Examples, among others, are encountered in fields such as fingermarks (e.g., ‘this fingermark comes from Mr. A's left thumb’), handwriting examinations (e.g., ‘the questioned signature is that of Mr. A’), kinship analyses (e.g., ‘Mr. A is the father of child C’) or anthropology (e.g., ‘these are human remains'). Considerable developments using formal methods of reasoning based on, for example (Bayesian) decision theory, are available in literature, but currently such reference principles are not explicitly used in operational forensic reporting and ensuing decision-making. Moreover, applied examples, illustrating the principles, are scarce. A potential consequence of this in practical proceedings, and hence a cause of concern, is that underlying ingredients of decision criteria (such as losses quantifying the undesirability of adverse decision consequences), are not properly dealt with. There is merit, thus, in pursuing the study and discussion of practical examples, demonstrating that formal decision-theoretic principles are not merely conceptual considerations. Actually, these principles can be shown to underpin practical decision-making procedures and existing legal decision criteria, though often not explicitly apparent as such. In this paper, we will present such examples and discuss their properties from a Bayesian decision-theoretic perspective. We will argue that these are essential concepts for an informed discourse on decision-making across forensic disciplines and the development of a coherent view on this topic. We will also emphasize that these principles are of normative nature in the sense that they provide standards against which actual judgment and decision-making may be compared. Most importantly, these standards are justified independently of peoples' observable decision behaviour, and of whether or not one endorses these formal methods of reasoning.

      PubDate: 2018-04-15T10:32:18Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.07.002
       
  • Dead weight: Validation of mass regression equations on experimentally
           burned skeletal remains to assess skeleton completeness
    • Authors: D. Gonçalves; J. d'Oliveira Coelho; A. Amarante; C. Makhoul; I. Oliveira-Santos; D. Navega; E. Cunha
      Pages: 2 - 6
      Abstract: Publication date: January 2018
      Source:Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 1
      Author(s): D. Gonçalves, J. d'Oliveira Coelho, A. Amarante, C. Makhoul, I. Oliveira-Santos, D. Navega, E. Cunha
      In very fragmentary remains, the thorough inventory of skeletal elements is often impossible to accomplish. Mass has been used instead to assess the completeness of the skeleton. Two different mass-based methods of assessing skeleton completeness were tested on a sample of experimentally burned skeletons with the objective of determining which of them is more reliable. The first method was based on a simple comparison of the mass of each individual skeleton with previously published mass references. The second method was based on mass linear regressions from individual bones to estimate complete skeleton mass. The clavicle, humerus, femur, patella, metacarpal, metatarsal and tarsal bones were used. The sample was composed of 20 experimentally burned skeletons from 10 males and 10 females with ages-at-death between 68 and 90years old. Results demonstrated that the regression approach is more objective and more reliable than the reference comparison approach even though not all bones provided satisfactory estimations of the complete skeleton mass. The femur, humerus and patella provided the best performances among the individual bones. The estimations based on the latter had root mean squared errors (RMSE) smaller than 300g. Results demonstrated that the regression approach is quite promising although the patella was the only reasonable predictor expected to survive sufficiently intact to a burning event at high temperatures. The mass comparison approach has the advantage of not depending on the preservation of individual bones. Whenever bones are intact though, the application of mass regressions should be preferentially used because it is less subjective.

      PubDate: 2018-04-15T10:32:18Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.07.003
       
  • Fingermark visualisation on metal surfaces: An initial investigation of
           the influence of surface condition on process effectiveness
    • Authors: M. Pitera; V.G. Sears; S.M. Bleay; S. Park
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 12 May 2018
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(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.

      PubDate: 2018-05-15T01:59:25Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.05.005
       
  • Regulation: What is there not to like'
    • Authors: Martin Paul Evison
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 9 May 2018
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Martin Paul Evison


      PubDate: 2018-05-15T01:59:25Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.05.006
       
  • Forensic DNA retention: Public perspective studies in the United Kingdom
           and around the world
    • Authors: Aaron Opoku Amankwaa
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 8 May 2018
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(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.

      PubDate: 2018-05-15T01:59:25Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.05.002
       
  • Decision support for using mobile rapid DNA analysis at the crime scene
    • Authors: A.A. Mapes; R.D. Stoel; C.J. de Poot; P. Vergeer; M. Huyck
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 4 May 2018
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(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.

      PubDate: 2018-05-15T01:59:25Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.05.003
       
  • The United Kingdom and Ireland association of forensic toxicologists
           forensic toxicology laboratory guidelines (2018)
    • Authors: Simon P. Elliott; Duncan W.S. Stephen; Sue Paterson
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 4 May 2018
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(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.

      PubDate: 2018-05-15T01:59:25Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.05.004
       
  • Impact of aging on fingerprint ridge density: Anthropometry and forensic
           implications in sex inference
    • Authors: Angeles Sánchez-Andrés; José Antonio Barea; Noemí Rivaldería; Concepción Alonso-Rodríguez; Esperanza Gutiérrez-Redomero
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 May 2018
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(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.

      PubDate: 2018-05-15T01:59:25Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.05.001
       
  • Are DNA data a valid source to study the spatial behavior of unknown
           offenders'
    • Authors: Sabine De Moor; Christophe Vandeviver; Tom Vander Beken
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 2 May 2018
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(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.

      PubDate: 2018-05-15T01:59:25Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.04.003
       
  • IFC: Editorial Board
    • Abstract: Publication date: May 2018
      Source:Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 3


      PubDate: 2018-05-15T01:59:25Z
       
  • BM1: Events Guide
    • Abstract: Publication date: May 2018
      Source:Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 3


      PubDate: 2018-05-15T01:59:25Z
       
  • BM2: Council Information
    • Abstract: Publication date: May 2018
      Source:Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 3


      PubDate: 2018-05-15T01:59:25Z
       
  • Is Australia ready for fentanyl'
    • Authors: Hugh E. McKeown; Trevor J. Rook; James R. Pearson; Oliver A.H. Jones
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 1 May 2018
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Hugh E. McKeown, Trevor J. Rook, James R. Pearson, Oliver A.H. Jones


      PubDate: 2018-05-15T01:59:25Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.04.004
       
  • A preliminary assessment of the effect of PreCR™ DNA repair treatment on
           mixture ratios in two person mixtures
    • Authors: David San Pietro; Franco Tagliaro; Michael S. Adamowicz
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 April 2018
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(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.

      PubDate: 2018-05-15T01:59:25Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.04.002
       
  • Reply to letter to the editor: Response to “A study of the perception of
           verbal expressions of the strength of evidence”
    • Authors: James French; Eleanor Arscott; Ruth Morgan; Georgina Meakin
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 17 April 2018
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): James French, Eleanor Arscott, Ruth Morgan, Georgina Meakin


      PubDate: 2018-05-15T01:59:25Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.03.009
       
  • “I couldn't find it your honour, it mustn't be there!” – Tool
           errors, tool limitations and user error in digital forensics
    • Authors: Graeme Horsman
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 17 April 2018
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(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.

      PubDate: 2018-05-15T01:59:25Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.04.001
       
  • Questions, propositions and assessing different levels of evidence:
           Forensic voice comparison in practice
    • Authors: Vincent Hughes; Richard Rhodes
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 31 March 2018
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(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.

      PubDate: 2018-04-15T10:32:18Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.03.007
       
  • A novel FTA™ elute card collection method that improves direct DNA
           amplification from bloodstained concrete
    • Authors: Stephen G. Lipic; Lucille M. Giordullo; Jamie D. Fredericks
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 30 March 2018
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(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.

      PubDate: 2018-04-15T10:32:18Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.03.008
       
  • Application of mesocellular siliceous foams (MCF) for surface-assisted
           laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry (SALDI-MS) Analysis of
           fingermarks
    • Authors: R.M. Barros; M.C.H. Clemente; G.A.V. Martins; L.P. Silva
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 26 March 2018
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(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.

      PubDate: 2018-04-15T10:32:18Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.03.005
       
  • A review of the historical use and criticisms of gait analysis evidence
    • Authors: Michael Nirenberg; Wesley Vernon; Ivan Birch
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 7 March 2018
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(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.

      PubDate: 2018-04-15T10:32:18Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.03.002
       
  • The influence of alcohol content variation in UK packaged beers on the
           uncertainty of calculations using the Widmark equation
    • Authors: Peter D. Maskell; Calum Holmes; Margaux Huismann; Struan Reid; Martin Carr; Benjamin J. Jones; Dawn L. Maskell
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 March 2018
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(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.

      PubDate: 2018-04-15T10:32:18Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.03.003
       
  • Background survey of polyethylene in the Australian Capital Territory –
           A demonstration of variability in isotopic abundance values and their
           application to forensic casework
    • Authors: Kylie Jones; Felicity Koens; Timothy Simpson
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 5 March 2018
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(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.

      PubDate: 2018-04-15T10:32:18Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.03.001
       
  • IFC: Editorial Board
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2018
      Source:Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 2


      PubDate: 2018-04-15T10:32:18Z
       
  • BM1: Events Guide
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2018
      Source:Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 2


      PubDate: 2018-04-15T10:32:18Z
       
  • BM2: Council Information
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2018
      Source:Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 2


      PubDate: 2018-04-15T10:32:18Z
       
  • The use of the M-Vac® wet-vacuum system as a method for DNA recovery
    • Authors: Toby Vickar; Katherine Bache; Barbara Daniel; Nunzianda Frascione
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 31 January 2018
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(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.

      PubDate: 2018-04-15T10:32:18Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.01.003
       
  • Biological sex variation in bone mineral density in the cranium and femur
    • Authors: Anna Paschall; Ann H. Ross
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 January 2018
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Anna Paschall, Ann H. Ross
      Objectives Sex 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. Methods The 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. Results Student 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. Conclusions These 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.

      PubDate: 2018-04-15T10:32:18Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.01.002
       
  • IFC: Editorial Board
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2018
      Source:Science & Justice, Volume 58, Issue 1


      PubDate: 2018-04-15T10:32:18Z
       
  • A systematic analysis of misleading evidence in unsafe rulings in England
           and Wales
    • Authors: Nadine M. Smit; Ruth M. Morgan; David A. Lagnado
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 25 September 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Nadine M. Smit, Ruth M. Morgan, David A. Lagnado
      Evidence has the potential to be misleading if its value when expressing beliefs in hypotheses is not fully understood or presented. Although the knowledge base to understand uncertainties is growing, a challenge remains to prioritise research and to continuously assess the magnitude and consequences of misleading evidence in criminal cases. This study used a systematic content analysis to identify misleading evidence, drawing information from case transcripts of rulings argued unsafe by the Court of Appeal of England and Wales. In the 7-year study period, 218 applications were successful on appeal, containing 235 cases of misleading evidence. The majority (76%) of successful appeals were based upon the same materials available in the original trial, rather than the presentation of new relevant information. Witness (39%), forensic (32%), and character evidence (19%) were the most commonly observed evidence types, with the validity of witnesses (26%), probative value of forensic evidence (12%), and relevance of character evidence (10%) being the most prevalent combinations of identified issues. Additionally, the majority (66%) of misleading evidence types relate to their interpretation at activity level. The findings suggest that many of these misleading aspects could have been prevented by providing more transparency in the relationship between evidence and hypotheses. Generally, the results contribute to gaining a more complete picture of the role of misleading evidence in the criminal justice system.

      PubDate: 2018-01-09T19:31:50Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.09.005
       
  • Avoiding overstating the strength of forensic evidence: Shrunk likelihood
           ratios/Bayes factors
    • Authors: Geoffrey Stewart Morrison; Norman Poh
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 22 December 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(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.

      PubDate: 2017-12-26T18:49:05Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.12.005
       
  • The use of a quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) model to
           predict GABA-A receptor binding of newly emerging benzodiazepines
    • Authors: Laura Waters; Kieran R. Manchester; Peter D. Maskell; Shozeb Haider; Caroline Haegeman
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 22 December 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Laura Waters, Kieran R. Manchester, Peter D. Maskell, Shozeb Haider, Caroline Haegeman
      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.

      PubDate: 2017-12-26T18:49:05Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.12.004
       
  • Single source DNA profile recovery from single cells isolated from skin
           and fabric from touch DNA mixtures in mock physical assaults
    • Authors: Katherine Farash; Erin K. Hanson; Jack Ballantyne
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 22 December 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(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.

      PubDate: 2017-12-26T18:49:05Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.12.006
       
  • The effect of antifreeze (ethylene glycol) on the survival and the life
           cycle of two species of necrophagous blowflies (Diptera: Calliphoridae)
    • Authors: Abrar Essarras; Marco Pazzi; Ian R. Dadour; Paola A. Magni
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 21 December 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Abrar Essarras, Marco Pazzi, Ian R. Dadour, Paola A. Magni
      Entomotoxicology involves the analysis of the presence and the effects of toxicological substances in necrophagous insects. Results obtained by entomotoxicological studies may assist in the investigation of both the causes and the time of death of humans and animals. Ethylene glycol (EG) is easy to purchase, sweet and extremely toxic. It may be consumed accidentally or purposefully, in an attempt to cause death for suicidal or homicidal intent. Several cases report fatalities of humans and animals. The present study is the first to examine the effects of EG on the survival, developmental rate and morphology of two blowfly species, (Diptera: Calliphoridae) typically found on corpses and carcasses: Lucilia sericata (Meigen) and L. cuprina (Wiedemann). Both species were reared on substrates (beef liver) spiked with three different concentrations of EG that could cause death in either a human or cat: 1/2LD50 (T1), LD50 (T2), 2LD50 (T3), in addition to a control treatment (C) with no EG. Results of this research show that: a) both species are unable to survive if reared on a food substrate spiked with the highest concentration of EG (T3), while lower and medium concentrations (T1, T2) affect, but not prevent, the survival and the completion of the life cycle of such species; b) adults of L. sericata eclose only in C and T1, while adults of L. cuprina in both C, T1, T2; however, c) the developmental time of both species reared in T1 and T2 is statistically slower than the control; d) the body length of the immatures of both of the species reared in T1 and T2 is statistically smaller than the control.

      PubDate: 2017-12-26T18:49:05Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.12.008
       
  • The detection of metallic residues in skin stab wounds by means of
           SEM-EDS: A pilot study
    • Authors: Elisa Palazzo; Alberto Amadasi; Michele Boracchi; Guendalina Gentile; Francesca Maciocco; Matteo Marchesi; Riccardo Zoja
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 21 December 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(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.

      PubDate: 2017-12-26T18:49:05Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.12.007
       
  • Changes in illicit cocaine hydrochloride processing identified and
           revealed through multivariate analysis of cocaine signature data
    • Authors: Jennifer R. Mallette; John F. Casale; Valerie L. Colley; David R. Morello; James Jordan
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 20 December 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Jennifer R. Mallette, John F. Casale, Valerie L. Colley, David R. Morello, James Jordan
      For nearly 30years, the methods utilized in illicit cocaine hydrochloride production have remained relatively consistent. Cocaine hydrochloride is typically produced one kilogram at a time. As a result, each individual kilogram is unique and distinct from other kilograms in any particular seizure based on the total alkaloid profile, occluded solvent profile, and isotopic signature. Additionally, multi-kilogram cocaine seizures are often comprised of cocaine from several different coca growing regions. There has been a documented shift in this type of processing based on the recent analysis of a large cocaine seizure in the Eastern Pacific. Signature analyses of samples from 21kg randomly selected from a 517kg seizure were virtually identical. Triplicate analyses of each sample via gas chromatography with flame ionization detection, static headspace gas chromatography mass spectrometry, and isotope ratio mass spectrometry were completed. An initial outlier evaluation of the data and an in-depth univariate analysis indicated there was no statistically significant difference among the 21 samples at the 95% confidence interval. Principal components analysis did reveal consistent minor deviations between the samples and known authentic data from the Nariño coca growing region of Colombia. These deviations were only observed on the latter principal components and could be explained by differences in solvent selection during cocaine hydrochloride processing. Chemical analyses in addition to a thorough statistical evaluation suggest a shift in the traditional small-batch method of cocaine processing to a multi-kilogram, high throughput approach.

      PubDate: 2017-12-26T18:49:05Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.12.003
       
  • Editorial
    • Authors: Lisa L. Smith
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 12 December 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Lisa L. Smith


      PubDate: 2017-12-12T08:17:33Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.12.002
       
  • The suitability of visual taphonomic methods for digital photographs: An
           experimental approach with pig carcasses in a tropical climate
    • Authors: Agathe Ribéreau-Gayon; Carolyn Rando; Ruth M. Morgan; David O. Carter
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 December 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Agathe Ribéreau-Gayon, Carolyn Rando, Ruth M. Morgan, David O. Carter
      In the context of increased scrutiny of the methods in forensic sciences, it is essential to ensure that the approaches used in forensic taphonomy to measure decomposition and estimate the postmortem interval are underpinned by robust evidence-based data. Digital photographs are an important source of documentation in forensic taphonomic investigations but the suitability of the current approaches for photographs, rather than real-time remains, is poorly studied which can undermine accurate forensic conclusions. The present study aimed to investigate the suitability of 2D colour digital photographs for evaluating decomposition of exposed human analogues (Sus scrofa domesticus) in a tropical savanna environment (Hawaii), using two published scoring methods; Megyesi et al., 2005 and Keough et al., 2017. It was found that there were significant differences between the real-time and photograph decomposition scores when the Megyesi et al. method was used. However, the Keough et al. method applied to photographs reflected real-time decomposition more closely and thus appears more suitable to evaluate pig decomposition from 2D photographs. The findings indicate that the type of scoring method used has a significant impact on the ability to accurately evaluate the decomposition of exposed pig carcasses from photographs. It was further identified that photographic taphonomic analysis can reach high inter-observer reproducibility. These novel findings are of significant importance for the forensic sciences as they highlight the potential for high quality photograph coverage to provide useful complementary information for the forensic taphonomic investigation. New recommendations to develop robust transparent approaches adapted to photographs in forensic taphonomy are suggested based on these findings.
      Graphical abstract image

      PubDate: 2017-12-12T08:17:33Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.12.001
       
  • A comparison of penetration and damage caused by different types of
           arrowheads on loose and tight fit clothing
    • Authors: Nichole MacPhee; Anne Savage; Nikolas Noton; Eilidh Beattie; Louise Milne; Joanna Fraser
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 26 November 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Nichole MacPhee, Anne Savage, Nikolas Noton, Eilidh Beattie, Louise Milne, Joanna Fraser
      Bows and arrows are used more for recreation, sport and hunting in the Western world and tend not to be as popular a weapon as firearms or knives. Yet there are still injuries and fatalities caused by these low-velocity weapons due to their availability to the public and that a licence is not required to own them. This study aimed to highlight the penetration capabilities of aluminium arrows into soft tissue and bones in the presence of clothing. Further from that, how the type and fit of clothing as well as arrowhead type contribute to penetration capacity. In this study ballistic gelatine blocks (non-clothed and loose fit or tight fit clothed) were shot using a 24lb weight draw recurve bow and aluminium arrows accompanied by four different arrowheads (bullet, judo, blunt and broadhead). The penetration capability of aluminium arrows was examined, and the depth of penetration was found to be dependent on the type of arrowhead used as well as by the type and fit or lack thereof of the clothing covering the block. Loose fit clothing reduced penetration with half of the samples, reducing penetration capacity by percentages between 0% and 98.33%, at a range of 10m. While the remaining half of the samples covered with tight clothing led to reductions in penetration of between 14.06% and 94.12%. The damage to the clothing and the gelatine (puncturing, cutting and tearing) was affected by the shape of the arrowhead, with the least damaged caused by the blunt arrowheads and the most by the broadhead arrows. Clothing fibres were also at times found within the projectile tract within the gelatine showing potential for subsequent infection of an individual with an arrow wound. Ribs, femur bones and spinal columns encased in some of the gelatine blocks all showed varying levels of damage, with the most and obvious damage being exhibited by the ribs and spinal column. The information gleaned from the damage to clothing, gelatine blocks and bones could potentially be useful for forensic investigators, for example, when a body has been discovered with no weapons or gunshot residue present.

      PubDate: 2017-12-12T08:17:33Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.11.005
       
  • A study of the intermolecular interactions of lipid components from
           analogue fingerprint residues
    • Authors: Andrew Johnston; Keith Rogers
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 24 November 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Andrew Johnston, Keith Rogers
      A compositionally simplified analogue of a latent fingermark was created by combining single representatives of each major component of a natural fingermark. Further modified analogues were also produced each having one component removed. The aim of this study was to investigate the intermolecular interactions that occurred within these analogue samples using Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) Microspectroscopy. FT-IR microspectroscopy showed that the absence of squalene and cholesterol significantly restricted the interactions between the other organic constituents within the analogue samples. Investigating the intermolecular interactions of organic compounds within a simplified analogue solution could indicate corresponding interactions that occur within natural fingermarks. These potential interactions could go on to be the target of further investigation of latent fingermark chemistry, and ultimately contribute to a better understanding of the aging processes and degradation mechanisms that take place post-deposition.

      PubDate: 2017-12-12T08:17:33Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.11.004
       
  • Profiling the scent of weathered training aids for blood-detection dogs
    • Authors: Baree Chilcote; LaTara Rust; Katie D. Nizio; Shari L. Forbes
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 23 November 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Baree Chilcote, LaTara Rust, Katie D. Nizio, Shari L. Forbes
      At outdoor crime scenes, cadaver-detection and blood-detection dogs may be tasked with locating blood that is days, weeks or months old. Although it is known that the odour profile of blood will change during this time, it is currently unknown how the profile changes when exposed to the environment. Such variables must be studied in order to understand when the odour profile is no longer detectable by the scent-detection dogs and other crime scene tools should be implemented. In this study, blood was deposited onto concrete and varnished wood surfaces and weathered in an outdoor environment over a three-month period. Headspace samples were collected using solid phase microextraction (SPME) and analysed using comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography – time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC×GC–TOFMS). The chemical odour profiles were compared with the behavioural responses of cadaver-detection and blood-detection dogs during training. Data interpretation using principal component analysis (PCA) and hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) established that the blood odour could no longer be detected using SPME–GC×GC–TOFMS after two months of weathering on both surfaces. Conversely, the blood-detection dogs had difficulty locating the blood samples after one month of weathering on concrete and after one week of weathering on varnished wood. The scent-detection dogs evaluated herein had not been previously exposed to environmentally weathered blood samples during training. Given that this study was conducted to test the dogs' baseline abilities, it is expected that with repeated exposure, the dogs' capabilities would likely improve. The knowledge gained from this study can assist in providing law enforcement with more accurate training aids for blood-detection dogs and can improve their efficiency when deployed to outdoor crime scenes.
      Graphical abstract image

      PubDate: 2017-12-12T08:17:33Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.11.006
       
  • Validation studies in forensic odontology – Part 1: Accuracy of
           radiographic matching
    • Authors: Mark Page; Russell Lain; Richard Kemp; Jane Taylor
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 7 November 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(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.

      PubDate: 2017-11-10T06:57:25Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.11.001
       
  • The introduction of forensic advisors in Belgium and their role in the
           criminal justice system
    • Authors: Sonja Bitzer; Laetitia Heudt; Aurélie Barret; Lore George; Karolien Van Dijk; Fabrice Gason; Bertrand Renard
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 7 November 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(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.

      PubDate: 2017-11-10T06:57:25Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.11.002
       
  • Massively parallel sequencing and the emergence of forensic genomics:
           Defining the policy and legal issues for law enforcement
    • Authors: Nathan Scudder; Dennis McNevin; Sally F. Kelty; Simon J. Walsh; James Robertson
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 12 October 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Nathan Scudder, Dennis McNevin, Sally Kelty, Simon J. Walsh, James Robertson
      Use of DNA in forensic science will be significantly influenced by new technology in coming years. Massively parallel sequencing and forensic genomics will hasten the broadening of forensic DNA analysis beyond short tandem repeats for identity towards a wider array of genetic markers, in applications as diverse as predictive phenotyping, ancestry assignment, and full mitochondrial genome analysis. With these new applications come a range of legal and policy implications, as forensic science touches on areas as diverse as ‘big data’, privacy and protected health information. Although these applications have the potential to make a more immediate and decisive forensic intelligence contribution to criminal investigations, they raise policy issues that will require detailed consideration if this potential is to be realised. The purpose of this paper is to identify the scope of the issues that will confront forensic and user communities.

      PubDate: 2017-10-13T17:45:46Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.10.001
       
  • Acid alteration of several ignitable liquids of potential use in arsons
    • Authors: Carlos Martín-Alberca; Héctor Carrascosa; Itxaso San Román; Luis Bartolomé; Carmen García-Ruiz
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 25 September 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Carlos Martín-Alberca, Héctor Carrascosa, Itxaso San Román, Luis Bartolomé, Carmen García-Ruiz
      Ignitable liquids such as fuels, alcohols and thinners can be used in criminal activities, for instance arsons. Forensic experts require to know their chemical compositions, as well as to understand how different modification effects could impact them, in order to detect, classify and identify them properly in fire debris. The acid alteration/acidification of ignitable liquids is a modification effect that sharply alters the chemical composition, for example, of gasoline and diesel fuel, interfering in the forensic analysis and result interpretation. However, to date there is little information about the consequences of this effect over other accelerants of interests. In this research paper, the alteration by sulfuric acid of several commercial thinners and other accelerants of potential use in arsons is studied in-depth. For that purpose, spectral (by ATR-FTIR) and chromatographic (by GC–MS) data were obtained from neat and acidified samples. Then, the spectral and chromatographic modifications of each studied ignitable liquid were discussed, proposing several chemical mechanisms that explain the new by-products produced and the gradual disappearance of the initial compounds. Hydrolysis, Fischer esterification and alkylation reactions are involved in the modification of esters, alcohols, ketones and aromatic compounds of the studied ignitable liquids. This information could be crucial for correctly identifying these accelerants. Additionally, an exploratory analysis revealed that some of the most altered ignitable liquid samples might be very similar with each other, which could have impact on casework.

      PubDate: 2017-09-27T16:14:15Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.09.004
       
  • Novel messenger RNAs for body fluid identification
    • Authors: Patricia P. Albani; Rachel Fleming
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 25 September 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Patricia P. Albani, Rachel Fleming
      In forensic investigations, the identification of the cellular or body fluid source of biological evidence can provide crucial probative information for the court. Messenger RNA (mRNA) profiling has become a valuable tool for body fluid and cell type identification due to its high sensitivity and compatibility with DNA analysis. However, using a single marker to determine the somatic origin of a sample can lead to misinterpretation as a result of cross-reactions. While false positives may be avoided through the simultaneous detection of multiple markers per body fluid, this approach is currently limited by the small number of known differentially expressed mRNAs. Here we characterise six novel mRNAs, partly identified from RNA-Seq, which can supplement existing markers for the detection of circulatory blood, semen (with and without spermatozoa) and menstrual fluid: HBD and SLC4A1 for blood, TNP1 for spermatozoa, KLK2 for seminal fluid, and MMP3 and STC1 for menstrual fluid. Their respective expression profiles were evaluated by singleplex endpoint reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). HBD, SLC4A1 and KLK2 were specific to their respective target body fluids. TNP1, MMP3 and STC1 each cross-reacted with two non-target samples, however, these signals were below 350 RFU, not reproducible and likely resulted from large body fluid inputs. Furthermore, all candidates were more sensitive for the detection of their target body fluids than corresponding well-known mRNAs, in particular those for menstrual fluid. The increased sensitivities were statistically significant, except for KLK2. Altogether, the new mRNAs introduced here are promising new targets for improved body fluid profiling.

      PubDate: 2017-09-27T16:14:15Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.09.002
       
  • Soil forensics: How far can soil clay analysis distinguish between soil
           vestiges'
    • Authors: R.S. Corrêa; V.F. Melo; G.G.F. Abreu; M.H. Sousa; J.A. Chaker; J.A. Gomes
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 25 September 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): R.S. Corrêa, V.F. Melo, G.G.F. Abreu, M.H. Sousa, J.A. Chaker, J.A. Gomes
      Soil traces are useful as forensic evidences because they frequently adhere to individuals and objects associated with crimes and can place or discard a suspect at/from a crime scene. Soil is a mixture of organic and inorganic components and among them soil clay contains signatures that make it reliable as forensic evidences. In this study, we hypothesized that soils can be forensically distinguished through the analysis of their clay fraction alone, and that samples of the same soil type can be consistently distinguished according to the distance they were collected from each other. To test these hypotheses 16 Oxisol samples were collected at distances of between 2m and 1.000m, and 16 Inceptisol samples were collected at distances of between 2m and 300m from each other. Clay fractions were extracted from soil samples and analyzed for hyperspectral color reflectance (HSI), X-ray diffraction crystallographic (XRD), and for contents of iron oxides, kaolinite and gibbsite. The dataset was submitted to multivariate analysis and results were from 65% to 100% effective to distinguish between samples from the two soil types. Both soil types could be consistently distinguished for forensic purposes according to the distance that samples were collected from each other: 1000m for Oxisol and 10m for Inceptisol. Clay color and XRD analysis were the most effective techniques to distinguish clay samples, and Inceptisol samples were more easily distinguished than Oxisol samples. Soil forensics seems a promising field for soil scientists as soil clay can be useful as forensic evidence by using routine analytical techniques from soil science.

      PubDate: 2017-09-27T16:14:15Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.09.003
       
 
 
JournalTOCs
School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences
Heriot-Watt University
Edinburgh, EH14 4AS, UK
Email: journaltocs@hw.ac.uk
Tel: +00 44 (0)131 4513762
Fax: +00 44 (0)131 4513327
 
Home (Search)
Subjects A-Z
Publishers A-Z
Customise
APIs
Your IP address: 54.198.119.26
 
About JournalTOCs
API
Help
News (blog, publications)
JournalTOCs on Twitter   JournalTOCs on Facebook

JournalTOCs © 2009-