UCL Centre for the Forensic Sciences



Decision-making by fingerprint laboratory practitioners

The background: Within UK policing items of evidence collected from scenes of crime are often submitted to a fingermark enhancement laboratory, where fingerprint laboratory practitioners will use a variety of techniques to chemically enhance latent fingermarks present on these items. Once areas of fingermark detail have been enhanced it is the responsibility of the practitioner to decide whether the detail is of sufficient quality to be used by a fingerprint examiner to carry out a comparison with fingerprints from persons of interest in the case. 

Effectiveness of sufficiency decisions: The aim of this research is to ascertain the effectiveness of this sufficiency decision made by fingerprint laboratory practitioners, in relation to the judgement of usability of the fingermarks made by fingerprint examiners. This will be achieved through a number of studies involving operational practitioners. 

Methodologies for increased efficiency: The research will then look to further establish the mechanisms of decision-making carried out by practitioners, and to provide methodologies for the increased efficiency of laboratory sufficiency decision-making in order to maximise the evidential value of fingerprint evidence.