Northumbria University Centre for Forensic Science

The persistence of fibres on skin in an outdoor deposition crime scene scenario

R. Palmer & G. Polwarth. Science & Justice, 51(4), pp. 187-189. Recipient of the PW Allen award for best published article in 2011. (2011) .


Textile fibres were transferred to a pig skin carcass and their persistence determined at daily intervals for up to a 12 day period during which time the carcass was left outdoors exposed to the prevailing weather conditions and animal activity. In the absence of strong winds and precipitation, the loss of fibres was found to be exponential. Stronger winds and heavier precipitation caused an increase in the rate of loss of fibres. The results of this study showed that the majority of fibres transferred to a body deposited outdoors, can be expected to be lost after the first 2 days, however, none of the experiments performed resulted in a complete loss of fibres, even after 12 days exposure. These persistence characteristics differed from those observed in a similar study using small sections of skin, rather than carcasses. The implications of the results of the present study in relation to the examination of fibre evidence in cases of homicide are discussed.

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