Northumbria University Centre for Forensic Science

Year: 2013

Forensic Facial Comparison: Issues of Admissibility in the Development of Novel Analytical Technique

X. Mallett & M.P. Evison. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 58(4), pp. 859-865. (2013)


Much contemporary debate in forensic science concerns validity and admissibility of scientific evidence in court. In this paper, three current approaches to facial identification—image superimposition, photogrammetry, and morphological analysis—are considered with regard to criteria for scientific evidence in the United States, and England, and Wales. The aim of the paper is to assess the extent to which facial image comparison meets criteria of admissibility in these jurisdictions. The method used is a comparative evaluation of the methods of facial image comparison and their underlying premises against the range of admissibility criteria reported in court rulings and relevant judicial and scientific inquiries in the United States and the United Kingdom. While the techniques of facial image comparison are generally accepted within their practitioner communities, they are not tested, and their error rates are unknown. On that basis, the methods of facial image comparison would appear not to meet the anticipated standards. They are, nevertheless, admitted in court in the United States, and England, and Wales. This paper concludes that further research in science and law will be necessary to more definitively establish admissibility of facial image comparison evidence, as it will for other nascent and novel methods that are potentially influential in court proceedings.

Tags: , Martin Evison

The effect on cadaver blood DNA identification by the use of targeted and whole body post-mortem computed tomography angiography.

G.N. Rutty; J. Barber, J. Amoroso, B. Morgan & E.A. Graham. Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology, article in press (2013)


Post-mortem computed tomography angiography (PMCTA) involves the injection of contrast agents. This could have both a dilution effect on biological fluid samples and could affect subsequent post-contrast analytical laboratory processes. We undertook a small sample study of 10 targeted and 10 whole body PMCTA cases to consider whether or not these two methods of PMCTA could affect post-PMCTA cadaver blood based DNA identification. We used standard methodology to examine DNA from blood samples obtained before and after the PMCTA procedure. We illustrate that neither of these PMCTA methods had an effect on the alleles called following short tandem repeat based DNA profiling, and therefore the ability to undertake post-PMCTA blood based DNA identification.

Tags: , Eleanor Graham

Utility in Forensic Anthropology: Findings Contributing to Case Conversion

M.P. Evison, R.A. Francisco & M.A. Guimarãe. Forensic Science Policy & Managament, 3(3), pp. 113-125. (2013)


In Approaching Utility in Forensic Anthropology, Evison, Francisco, and Guimarães (2012) propose an attrition model for the study of the impact of forensic anthropology in the justice system and consider wider implications for crime prevention and public health and safety. In this short supplementary article, brief illustrations of case findings are offered to demonstrate their significance in case progression—or conversions—in the investigative and prosecutorial process. The examples, it is suggested, support the specific arguments for improved communication and integration, feedback on evidential reliability, and tailoring of research and education to reflect caseload proposed via the attrition model, as well as policy advances that would improve efficacy in public health and safety.

Tags: , Martin Evison

Ethical, Social and Policy Aspects of Forensic Genetics

R. Williams & M. Wienroth (2013), EUROFORGEN Systematic Review, Newcastle: Northumbria University.

Tags: , Matthias Wienroth

Enacting forensics in homicide investigations

R. Williams & J. Weetmand. Policing and Society: An International Journal of Research and Policy. in press. 2013


This article, co-authored by an academic and a forensic practitioner, describes some of the gaps in current knowledge of the utility of forensic science support to homicide investigations. It also reflects on the experience of a recent pilot study of the use of forensic science in homicide investigations in an English police force to argue for new kinds of research capable of grasping the ways in which issues of temporality, agency and contingency are imbricated with one another in the typical trajectories of homicide inquiries, at least as far as the contribution of forensic science is concerned.

Tags: , Robin Williams

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