Friday, July 17, 2020

Easily document your latent comparison notes electronically with Forensic Comparison Software

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Michael Whyte
Crime Scene Officer and Fingerprint Expert with over 12 years experience in Crime Scene Investigation and Latent Print Analysis. The opinions or assertions contained on this site are the private views of the author and are not to be construed as those of any professional organisation or policing body.
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The pressure from courts is now on for latent fingerprint examiners to produce more complete documentation to demonstrate the ACE + V process used in Fingerprint Comparisons. At one time, we in Australia produced pro forma that provided tick boxes for things like feature clarity, type etc. but they were inconvenient and time consuming. 

Theoretically at least, the on-screen comparison of latent fingerprints would be ideal for the quick and easy making of notes. The electronic medium opens the possibility of recording the notes on the fingerprint analysis and reproducing those notes in a clear and professional format. Information on the features that are used in the identification process can be captured while the examination proceeds and efficiency does not have to suffer too much.

Some annotations are easy and others, not some much. For example, feature type and clarity, and feature order of comparison are easily reduced to electronic notes, especially with clarity color descriptors such as those used in GYRO. Others such as development and enhancement techniques, substrate type etc. are more varied and are more suited to free text.

Charting is another form of annotation and when used correctly can tell a story of how the operator came to a decision. Charting has historically been used to present Fingerprint Comparisons in court but, due to the effort and time involved, were limited to that one purpose. With electronic automation charting is now very easy and can now routinely be used as a tool for note taking in case files.

Forensic Comparison Software provides the latent examiner with all of these tools to record the relevant notes in real time without the need for manual note taking and allows for the export of those electronic notes to a printer for inclusion in a case file or to the case management systems for permanent storage. 

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