Use of 3D image processing techniques to create a reference repository for the characterisation and analysis of sharp force injuries on bone

This research aims to provide a validated empirical methodology, that can be used by police forces and pathologists in analysing sharp force trauma. This study also intends to produce a toolmark database to aid in police casework.

Key details

Lead institution
Principal researcher(s)
Mark Williams
Police region
West Midlands
Collaboration and partnership

West Midlands Police; West Midlands Surgical Training Centre.

Level of research
PhD
Project start date
Date due for completion

Research context

Sharp force trauma is the most common method of homicide in the UK. Forensic pathologists may conduct evaluation of trauma in an attempt to determine the weapon used in these cases. However, currently there is no consistent methodology that can be implemented to these forms of evidence.

This research aims to provide a validated empirical methodology, using 3D imaging techniques, to be applied by police forces and pathologists to analyse sharp force trauma. This study also intends to produce a toolmark database to aid in police casework.

Research methodology

This research will utilise non-destructive 3D imaging techniques, predominantly Micro-CT, to enable visualisation of toolmarks on bone. Quantitative analysis of measurements will include statistical evaluation to empirically establish tool blade width prediction and classification of weapons. This study will utilise a larger sample size of tools than ever before to increase statistical validity of analysis. The data produced will establish the beginning of a reference database for forensic casework.

Interim reports or publications

Norman, D. G., Watson, Derrick G., Burnett, B., Fenne, P. M. and Williams, M. A. (2018) The cutting edge - Micro-CT for quantitative toolmark analysis of sharp force trauma to bone. Forensic Science International, 283, pp. 156-172.

Norman, D. G., Baier, W., Watson, Derrick G., Burnett, B., Painter, M. and Williams, M. A. (2018) Micro-CT for saw mark analysis on human bone. Forensic Science International, 293, pp. 91-100.

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