Finger on the trigger: method comparison to refine fingermark development techniques on firearms

Williams, Ryan (2014) Finger on the trigger: method comparison to refine fingermark development techniques on firearms. BSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    The overall aim of this research is to determine the best method for developing latent fingermarks on firearms, using a comparative analysis of the Centre for Applied Science and Technology recommended techniques and development sequence. Meanwhile, examining the effectiveness of vacuum metal deposition (VMD) and gelatine lifting in developing fingermarks on firearms, when compared to the common established techniques of cyanoacrylate fuming and powder. The study assessed each technique in a sequential process, to visualise five latent eccrine marks deposited on five self-loading handguns, by five different donors. The total of 110 samples were then graded according to quality, to inform an evaluation of each development technique's proficiency, both individually and as part of a sequential process. The findings were compared using statistical analysis, paired with observation of each technique's practicality and interactions with each other. Cyanoacrylate fuming was found to be superior to the other techniques in developing the highest quality and quantity of marks, improved still by the application of fluorescent dye. Findings show this was only a marginal improvement on VMD, which works well in sequence with cyanoacrylate fuming, but is too resource intensive to be recommended for primary operational use. However, VMD's ability to develop aged marks beyond cyanoacrylate's capabilities show it is vital for sequential development in specific circumstances. While findings showed gel lifting performed poorly, it demonstrated its usefulness to rapidly capture fingermarks without causing damage in sequential examination. On the contrary, the findings demonstrated powder as unsuitable for developing fingermarks on firearms due to destruction caused to the deposited fingermarks. Further research is recommended to investigate the developmental techniques and sequences on different firearm substrates, sweat composition and their proficiency in developing over time to fully evaluate and define good practice.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Beth Atkins
    Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2014 08:45
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 12:44

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