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#100papers – Imaging in forensic science: Five years on

A literature review paper summarising the contribution of non-contact methodologies in forensic science is presented by Rachel Carew and David Errickson. Rachel is another academic I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with through the Australian New Zealand Forensic Science Society’s 24th Symposia held in Perth in 2018 where she presented work on anthropologic 3D scanning. I missed her presentation, however, she was kind enough to send me her paper which has since been passed on to my honours students working on the comparative imaging study.

The main reason we use 3D imaging to capture a crime scene is that it is: non-invasive, non-contact, non-destructive, safer and has significant cost, time and labour savings.

A brilliant break down of the current playing field of technologies employed in 3D imaging is presented for study. This is an informative and through literature review. Section two provides a useful technical breakdown of the current technologies used without being overly technical. A great analysis for the non-technical reader and a good starting place for someone like myself who has an enegineering focus.

A hypothesis I have been exploring is that hybrid techniques are more powerful than traditional methods. This is touched on in section 2.3 in what is called Multimodal Imaging. This is the first time I have seen it discussed in the literature and is exciting to see! The reference ties to a paper by Villa, Filies and Jacobsen which I will explore in a future write up.

C. Villa, M.J. Flies, C. Jacobsen, Forensic 3D documentation of bodies: simple and fast procedure for combining CT scanning with external photogrammetry data, J. Forensic Radiol. Imaging 12 (2018) e2–e7, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jofri.2017. 11.003.

Multimodal imaging was also identified in Aaladers et al as one of four important issues and I will endevour to evaluate this paper as well.

M. Aalders, N. Adolphi, B. Daly, G. Davis, H. De Boer, S. Decker, …, K. Wozniak, Research in forensic radiology and imaging; Identifying the most important issues, J. Forensic Radiol. Imaging 8 (2017) 1–8, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jofri.2017. 01.004.

Indeed, applying non-contact and contact methods of imaging may resolve issues of accuracy which has been an instrumental part of my own theories.

G. Sansoni, M. Trebeschi, F. Docchio, State-of-the-art and applications of 3D imaging sensors in industry, cultural heritage, medicine, and criminal investigation, Sensors 9 (1) (2009) 568–601, https://doi.org/10.3390/s90100568.

Editing of point clouds must be fully documented as it can create issues with admissibility later.

Several applications of forensic scanning are also discussed within the paper. This includes previously unconsidered cases to this author as:

  • age of maturity cases

There are still some questions in my mind about the 3D capture of evidence:

  • has the texture map which can easily be applied to evidence been accepted in case law as admissible?
  • Does this meet Daubert and the other evidentiary requirements for the admissibility of evidence?

Overall, the piece is a significantly interesting paper and I have numerous further resources to consult, review and indeed, pass on to my own students for their thoughts.

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