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The relevance of the evolution of experimental studies for the interpretation and evaluation of some trace physical evidence

Morgan, RM; Cohen, J; McGookin, I; Murly-Gotto, J; O'Connor, R; Muress, S; Freudiger-Bonzon, J; (2009) The relevance of the evolution of experimental studies for the interpretation and evaluation of some trace physical evidence. Science & Justice , 49 (4) pp. 277-285. 10.1016/j.scijus.2009.02.004. Green open access

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Abstract

In order for trace evidence to have a high evidential value, experimental studies which mimic the forensic reality are of fundamental importance. Such primary level experimentation is crucial to establish a coherent body of theory concerning the generation, transfer and persistence of different forms of trace physical evidence. We contend that the forensic context, at whatever scale, will be specific to each individual forensic case and this context in which a crime takes place will influence the properties of trace evidence. it will, therefore, be necessary in many forensic cases to undertake secondary level experimental studies that incorporate specific variables pertinent to a particular case and supplement the established theory presented in the published literature. Such studies enable a better understanding of the specific forensic context and thus allow More accurate collection, analysis and interpretation of the trace physical evidence to be achieved. This paper presents two cases where the findings of secondary level experimental studies undertaken to address specific issues particular to two forensic investigations proved to be important. Specific pre-, syn- and post-forensic event factors were incorporated into the experimental design and proved to be invaluable in the recovery, analysis and in achieving accurate interpretations of both soil evidence from footwear and glass trace evidence from a broken window.These Studies demonstrate that a fuller understanding of the specific context within which trace physical evidence is generated and subsequently collected, as well as an understanding of the behaviour of certain forms of trace physical evidence under specific conditions, can add evidentiary weight to the analysis and interpretation of that evidence and thus help a court with greater certainty where resources (time and cost) permit.

Type: Article
Title: The relevance of the evolution of experimental studies for the interpretation and evaluation of some trace physical evidence
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2009.02.004
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scijus.2009.02.004
Language: English
Keywords: Experiments, Soil, Glass, Persistence, Interpretation, SIMULATED CONTACTS, CLOTHING MATERIALS, GLASS FRAGMENTS, FLAT GLASS, PERSISTENCE, FIBERS, BREAKING, FABRICS, WEAR, INDIVIDUALS
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/84827
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