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Crime scene to court: a study on finger-mark aging


Forensic Research & Criminology International Journal
Andrew O Hagan, Department of Science and Technology Nottingham Trent University

Abstract

Fingerprint  evidence  is  at  the  forefront  of  most  criminal  cases,  with  important  issues raised regarding the age of the mark. Was the finger-mark deposited during the crime, or at a time not related for legitimate reasons? An in-depth understanding of  their  change  over  time  from  the  initial  to  the  aged  stage,  is  paramount  to  applying  a  robust  aging  model.  Focusing  on  the  influential  factors,  including  donor  variability  and  environmental  conditions,  along  with  their  effects  on  physical  or  chemical  characteristics  as  aging  parameters,  previously  proposed  techniques  have  been  analysed  in  attempt  to  find  suitable  parameters  to  solve  the  dating  issue.  This  review suggests that despite the variation of methods trialled, the question of finger-mark  dating  remains  largely  unanswered.  Whilst  some  techniques  showed  promise,  they  all  possessed  limitations,  mainly  due  to  the  large  effects  of  influential  factorsinconsistently  altering  the  deposit  over  time.  Without  reproducible  aging  trends,  estimating   an   accurate   and   reliable   age   is   unrealistic.   Considering   additional   research,  there  is  requirement  for  an  aging  method  to  be  tested  using  large  donor  volumes and contaminants on a wide range of substrates. Each must be subjected to ranging environmental conditions to plot aging curves. Reviewing and comparing thetechniques,  benefits  have  been  identified  for  selecting  target  lipid  compounds  and  obtaining  ratios  between  them.  Proposing  a  spectroscopic  method,  coupled  with  an  analytical instrument enables for quantification to observe a model for application to a multitude of scenarios. In the ideal situation, the method should be validated and undertaken  in  an  accredited  laboratory,  meaning  results  obtained  would  stand  up  to  cross- examination when employed in court

Keywords

finger-mark, aging, initial composition, aged composition, physical, chemical, influential factors

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