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The utility of gait as a biological characteristic in forensic investigations – An empirical examination of movement pattern variation using biomechanical and anthropological principles

Macoveciuc, Ioana; (2020) The utility of gait as a biological characteristic in forensic investigations – An empirical examination of movement pattern variation using biomechanical and anthropological principles. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Forensic gait analysis is generally defined as the analysis of gait features from video footage to assist in criminal investigations. Although an attractive means to detect suspects since data can be collected from a distance without their knowledge, forensic gait analysis presently lacks method validation and quality standards, not only due to insufficient research, but also because certain scientific foundations, such as the assumption of gait uniqueness, have not been adequately addressed. To test the scientific basis of this premise, a suitable dataset replicating an ideal forensic gait analysis scenario was compiled from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (Germany) database. Biomechanical analysis of sagittal plane human motion in the bilateral shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, and ankle joints was conducted across complete gait cycles of twenty participants, to investigate the degree to which intraindividual variation impacts interindividual variation, according to the following aims: (1) to better understand the relationship between form (anatomy) and function (physiology) of human gait, (2) to investigate the basis of gait uniqueness by examining similarities and differences in joint angles, and (3) to build upon current theoretical foundations of gait-based human identification. The findings indicate different degrees of movement asymmetry given body region and gait sub-phase, thereby challenging previous methods employing interchangeable use of bilateral motion data, and the use of ‘average’ gait cycles to represent the gait of an individual irrespective of body side. Furthermore, interindividual variability in all five joints is influenced by body side to different extents depending on gait sub-phase and body region, thereby challenging the claim of holistic uniqueness of gait features across all body regions and gait events. Given the findings of this thesis and paucity regarding empirical basis to support expertise, exerting caution when evaluating gait-based evidence admissibility is highly recommended, since the utility of gait in identification is currently limited.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The utility of gait as a biological characteristic in forensic investigations – An empirical examination of movement pattern variation using biomechanical and anthropological principles
Event: University College London
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Security and Crime Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10107022
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