Overview

Are you sure the Fingerprint Expert you are instructing is properly qualified to carry out the review of the evidence against your client?

The Fingerprint Consultants instructed by Forensic Assessment are trained and qualified to National Advanced standards.

An individual subject to a criminal prosecution has the right to have any Forensic evidence to be used in support of allegations against them to be thoroughly and robustly reviewed in an independent and unbiased manner by an expert acting on behalf of the Defence, in order to verify whether or not the relevant findings are correct and that conclusions are fair.

For over 100 years Fingerprints have been accepted in Courts throughout the world without any real challenge.

In 2001 a non-numeric standard was implemented in England and Wales in relation to the number of features a Fingerprint Examiner had to find in agreement before concluding that a fingerprint found at a crime scene could be positively identified to a suspect to the exclusion of all others. It follows that Fingerprint Examiners rely on presenting fingerprint evidence which contained far less than the sixteen features in agreement which was required prior to the implementation of the revised standard.

A number of cases have highlighted that mistakes can and have been made when people have been the subject of fingerprint identifications being wrongly attributed to them. This has resulted in Solicitors and Barristers more and more, rightly challenging evidence that, in the past they had accepted as irrefutable.

An experienced qualified Independent Fingerprint Expert is the only person who can review Fingerprint evidence.

As with expert witnesses in other forensic disciplines their duty is to the Court and not to any other agency. Their role is to assist the Court to reach a just and honest conclusion to Criminal or civil proceedings.

The expert fingerprint witness must include in their reports:-

  1. Their years experience in the analysis and comparison of fingerprints.
  2. Their relevant qualifications which allows them to present expert evidence.
  3. The basis on which they have made their conclusions, usually the number of ridge characteristics which are present and in agreement in both of the impressions they are comparing.

Ageing of impressions

There are no known scientific means of determining the age of fingerprints, or when fingerprints have been deposited onto an item or surface.

Position of fingerprints or how they were deposited on an article

An independent fingerprint expert may be able to give an opinion on how fingerprints were left on an article sometimes corroborating a person’s explanation on how they got there, sometimes legitimately.

Marks in blood

The question is often asked;

“Was the blood on the finger when an article was handled or was the blood on the article before a person left their fingerprint in it”

An experienced Fingerprint Expert should be able to answer this question

Continuity and integrity

The review of fingerprint evidence must insure that continuity and the integrity of crime scene exhibits has been maintained and is shown by case management systems.

Summary

A qualified Independent Exert should be able to answer all relevant questions on fingerprint analysis, be methodical in their approach, prepare a comprehensive expert report, and above all be an experienced and confident expert witness whose integrity is beyond reproach, and Forensic Assessment’s experts fulfill that role in an exemplary and highly Professional manner