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Title: Validation of experimental approaches in Forensic Science : a case study of the tissue fragments created during an explosive event
Author: DuBois, Erin Kathleen
ISNI:       0000 0004 7429 1867
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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The field of forensic science is currently shifting away from employing personal experiences of expert witnesses to form the bases for evidence interpretation to one that is more firmly based on scientific evidence. This extends across the field of forensic science, including investigations concerning explosive events. In order to better understand what occurs during an explosive event, realistic experimentation is required in order to build up a strong evidence database that can be applied to forensic investigation by researchers and practitioners alike. To work towards this aim, in this thesis several primary experiments were conducted to explore the use of different materials and material target sizes in experimental explosions. The rationale was that changing and downsizing materials would facilitate use of this type of experimentation and encourage build-up of the evidence base. Three sets of primary experiments were conducted which examined three different materials and material target sizes; scaled piglets, large gelatine blocks and scaled gelatine blocks. The results from each of these experiments were compared to the more standard large pig experimental model, to identify the similarities and differences between the two data sets. The development of appropriate quantitative methods is also a key concern in forensic science. To address this, the comparison of the data sets was conducted using a bespoke statistical program written in R studio, which was designed for easy use and interpretation and could be modified for a range of experimentation comparisons. A further key concern is the real world validity of forensic experimentation. During the course of study, the author had the opportunity to get involved with a large-scale police training exercise in which a bus was exploded. This enabled her to explore the implications of a more realistic post-explosive setting and make comparisons with her own experimental findings. Results were coupled with a set of interviews with law enforcement practitioners to explore the everyday use of forensic science in the field. Thesis results highlighted that large pig explosions produced data that was most similar to what would be present on an actual explosive event scene. The adapted explosions showed some promise, although more testing would be required to produce a sufficiently powerful statistical examination of each of the materials and material target sizes. Results also indicated that the input of practitioners is key for the development of realistic experimentation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available