Forensic Services >> Core Forensic Services >> Marks and Traces

Marks & Traces

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Our scientists examine all kinds of marks including shoe marks, tool and weapon marks, marks left behind by manufacturing processes, hand, finger and foot marks including inside shoes.

We use a wide range of different chemical, lighting and imaging enhancement techniques to extract the maximum amount of information from marks and improve the extent to which suspect marks can be compared with reference marks from known sources. 

These techniques can help to indicate or confirm what substance created the mark, opening up further avenues for investigation. Marks made in blood, for instance, can be used to reveal links with individual people through DNA testing, while those in soil could indicate associations with specific places. 

As a full service supplier, EUROFINS FORENSIC SERVICES is uniquely positioned to recognise and take advantage of all these opportunities. Marks services can be accessed as part of a rapid screening and intelligence service, such as shoe marks in volume crime cases or manufacturing marks on the small polythene bags found in drugs supply cases.  Or they can form part of more complex investigations combining wider forensics expertise. 

Marks and Traces

Glass microscopic particles for comparison, identification of glass type from minute particles and assessment of activity from findings.

Paint full comparison of different sources, identification of paint types including full layer structures and assessment of activity from findings.

GSR Screening of clothing, vehicles, hand swabs etc for the presence of gunshot residue, identification of type and comparison against know types (for example, using a firearm as reference). In most cases, elimination of potential contamination from firearm officers can be considered.

Fibres

Building materials

Cosmetics

Airbag dust

Fibre plastic fusion 

  • High speed impacts inside or outside fast moving objects (typically vehicles) can result in hairs and/or textile fibres becoming embedded in the interior plastic surfaces such as rooves, pillars, dashboards or steering wheels. These transfers essentially represent ‘the past’; where localised high heat results from impact (friction), melting plastic at a specific point. This plastic then immediately re-solidifies when it cools rapidly, trapping any material which has come into direct contact with it during that exact moment. Essentially, kinetic energy (such as a body ‘slamming’ during impact) is transformed into frictional heat. Fibres (and/or hairs) may become embedded in the plastic during this process- pulling themselves from their original location and becoming encased. In addition, in some instances the melted plastic, at the exact point of localised friction, can also transfer to clothing and this will then re-solidify onto the textile fibres to be retained as a smear/deposition. There may also be very slight heat-damage and/or impact evidence on the clothing at the relevant areas.

Areas on clothing such as plastic transfers and heat-damage tend to be highly localised, and often require a microscope to be observed. The use of fibre plastic fusion as an evidence type can be considered when the requirement is to place someone into a specific location at the exact point in an impact, often when DNA and fibre cannot assist (for example, due to legitimate access by the occupants). 

Metal including alloy identification and comparison.

Examination of keys for the presence of possible casting material (is there evidence a key has been copied?)

Chemical traces and noxious substance attacks Liquid acids and alkaline substances and other corrosive materials, including clothing damage. Via analysis (in conjunction with our toxicology team) the content of mixtures of liquids, residues or even in some cases apparently empty bottles can be established.

Lubricant traces on clothing

Oils and grease traces on clothing

Inks and dyes, including security markers.

 

Fire investigation

Ignitable liquids identification and flammability testing

Traces of ignitable liquid residue on clothing from people suspected of crime

Residue of ignitable liquids used to accelerate fire, from scenes of crime

Full scene investigation

Thermal damage to clothing from people suspected of crime (for example, ‘flashburning’)

Incendiary devices (viable or not?)

Electrical device post-fire investigation (working or not?)

 

Marks

Footwear marks on any surfaces, including 3D footprints in soil etc

Image manipulation and production of court-suitable albums

Marks on bodies

Complex marks such as burning from irons, attack on people from weapons etc

Physical fit and ceramic/plastic/glass/metal reconstruction

Scenes of crime marks and comparisons with tool, weapons or other such objects