Fingerprint evidence is one of the oldest forensic disciplines and still one of the key biometric identification tools used in modern crime investigation.
At Forensic Access, we work with legal teams in a range of cases including burglary, theft, child sex offences, drug offences and firearms offences that involve fingerprint evidence.
How can our fingerprint services assist in your defence case?
Our fingerprint experts have a wealth of experience in the identification, recovery, and comparison of fingerprints. They can assist your case:
- Review initial fingerprint evidence findings in the streamlined forensic report, to ensure that the information provides a full picture.
- Review any fingerprint evidence and work with defence counsel to provide advice regarding forensic strategies.
- Carry out their own analysis when fingerprint evidence is classified as inconclusive.
- Perform an impartial comparison of the two sets of fingerprints identified in a case.
- Prepare an independent written report of findings.
- Assess the validity of conclusions by reviewing the work conducted by prosecution experts.
- If required, attend court to offer an opinion on the evidence and/or advise the defence on all related fingerprint matters.
Fingerprints analysis remains the only unique means of human identification. In fact, no two people have been found to have the same arrangement of friction ridge detail, including identical twins. This uniqueness is very effective in connecting people to items and/or offences in criminal cases as experts can provide opinion to attribute an individual to a mark on a surface.
Did you know? Fingerprint evidence can include more than prints of your fingers. The term 'fingerprint' covers a wide range of areas which includes:
- The entire palm surface from the wrist to the tips of the fingers.
- The pieces of skin between the fingers.
- The friction ridges along the inner surface of the fingers and thumbs (known as phalanges)
Fingerprint analysis relies on two fundamental requirements; marks must be recovered and identified from items or locations and comparison made between marks must be reliable and be able to withstand scrutiny.
Fingerprint Identification and Review
Our fingerprint experts can examine items for fingerprint evidence found at a crime scene, connected to a range of crime types, from murder or burglary to drugs offences.
Our fingerprint experts can:
- Establish how fingerprint marks were deposited including analysis of ‘how’ and ‘when’ marks were deposited.
- Recover fingerprints with optical and chemical processes.
- Work with our DNA experts for a multi-disciplinary fingerprint and DNA investigation.
- Provide expert opinion on the validity of fingerprint identifications.
- Offer advice to defence counsel regarding forensic strategies after evidential reviews.
Fingerprint comparison can be crucial in most criminal investigations, as it is often the defining factor in identifying a person's presence at a crime scene, or in proving they had contact with the weapon involved. Unlike other forensic science disciplines, the analysis, comparison, and identification of fingerprints is based on expert opinion rather than fact.
Our team of fingerprint experts can perform an impartial comparison of two sets of fingerprints identified in a case, to classify the mark into one of four groups:
- Identified - the mark can be confidently attributed to a particular individual as there is sufficient quality and quantity of fingerprint detail for the fingerprint practitioner to assess and match.
- Excluded - enough fingerprint features do not match to conclude that marks did not come from the same person.
- Inconclusive - the fingerprint mark does not contain enough and/or sufficient quality detail for a viable comparison and gives inconclusive results.
- Insufficient - the fingerprint mark contains such low quantity and/or poor-quality detail that a reliable comparison cannot be made. The detail is not clear enough or it has been so compromised by external forces that the evidence is unreliable.
If required, our fingerprint experts can explain the limitations of fingerprint evidence to a legal team or jury.
How to pick the right expert in the field of fingerprint evidence?
At Forensic Access, our ISO/IEC 17025 accredited fingerprint laboratory is the UK’s only UKAS accredited unit outside Police Forces. The fingerprint team undertake prosecution, defence, and corporate work to assist in the recovery, identification, and comparison of fingerprint marks.
With in-house biology and firearms teams, the fingerprint team can work closely with our DNA and firearms experts for a multi-disciplinary fingerprint and DNA investigation all under the same roof.
Working with a qualified and highly experienced fingerprint expert can add huge value to your legal team. Get in touch with our casework team to find out how we can help at email@example.com or 01235 774870.
Learn more about challenging fingerprint evidence in our article: How fingerprint experts can take their mark on your defence.
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