The use of handwriting examinations beyond the traditional court purpose

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Science and Justice, 2017, 57 (5), pp. 394 - 400
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© 2017 The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences Traditionally, forensic science has predominantly focused its resources and objectives on addressing court related questions. However, this view restricts the contribution of forensic science to one function and results in lost opportunities as investigative and intelligence roles are often overlooked. A change of perspective and expansion of the contributions of forensic science is required to take advantage of the benefits of abductive and inductive thought processes throughout the investigative and intelligence functions. One forensic discipline that has the potential to broaden its traditional focus is handwriting examination. Typically used in investigations that are focused on both criminal and civil cases, the examination procedure and outcome are time consuming and subjective, requiring a detailed study of the features of the handwriting in question. Traditionally, the major handwriting features exploited are characteristics that are often considered individual (or at least highly polymorphic) and habitual. However, handwriting can be considered as an information vector in an intelligence framework. One such example is the recognition of key elements related to the author's native language. This paper discusses the traditional method generally used around the world and proposes a theoretical approach to expand the application of handwriting examination towards gaining additional information for intelligence purposes. This concept will be designed and tested in a future research project.
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