Micro-traces


PFS offers a micro-trace service which involves the identification and evaluation of fibres, hairs, paint fragments, plastics…indeed, most things microscopic.

We have extensive international expertise in all manner of identifying and comparing microscopic particles. In forensic terms this often relates to the transfer and retention of textile fibres and hairs; but can equally be considered for any microscopic particle that is capable of transfer from the complainant(s) to suspect(s) and vice versa; or via some intermediary object, such as a weapon or vehicle.

We are particularly experienced in historic and appeal cases; however it is worth noting that many of these skills may equally be applied in non-criminal work, for example, identifying and sourcing contamination in manufacturing processing plants.

Whilst there have been a few new textile fibre types developed in the past ten years, the vast majority that are key in forensic transfer cases, remains constant. The opinions drawn by the expert are subjective and great reliance is placed on the quality of the tests, together with the experience of the expert and relevant published research.

We are able to challenge the robustness of the methodology and opinions put forward. We have a wealth of experience in these matters and as such attract many of the highest profile cases where fibres often play a key role in the investigation and at the trial.

With this background we are able to assist with the following:

  • recovery of trace evidence using tape lifts; 1:1 mapping and zonal techniques
  • examination, identification of microscopic particles
  • analytical identification of unknown particles using a range of techniques
  • identification and comparison of textile fibre dyes and polymers
  • identification and comparison of human and animal hairs
  • identifiction and comparison of paints and plastics
  • conducting detailed reviews into the integrity and continuity of exhibits to ensure robustness of evidence
  • assessing whether internal laboratory quality processes have been followed
  • comparison of clothing in CCTV images
  • undertaking industrial enquiries to determine rarity/commonality
  • the assessment of the significance of scientific findings in the context of the case
  • critique of the presentation of both written and oral evidence to courts