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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 137-144

The modern development of new promising fields in forensic examinations

1 Department of Criminalistics, Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University, Kharkiv, Ukraine
2 Department of Criminal Procedure, Criminalistics and Expertology, Kharkiv National University of Internal Affairs, Kharkiv, Ukraine
3 Organizational and Analytical Department of the Organizational and Analytical Support and Rapid Response, Main Department of the National Police in Kyiv, Kyiv, Ukraine

Date of Submission17-Sep-2021
Date of Decision08-Oct-2021
Date of Acceptance16-Nov-2021
Date of Web Publication30-Dec-2021

Correspondence Address:
Igor V Borysenko
Department of Criminalistics, Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University, Kharkiv
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfsm.jfsm_66_21

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The relevance of the study is forensic expert activity in terms of forensic examinations have been so transformed that existing theoretical provisions do not already solve traditional problems in some fields; their solvation requires new approaches of both theoretical and practical nature. In this regard, the purpose of this study is to analyze the content of new innovative directions in forensic examinations, including criminalistic ones, and the possibility of their effective application in forensic expert activity. The methodological basis of the study is the dialectical method of scientific knowledge, which allowed the authors to consider the theoretical and scientific, and practical foundations of modern trends in forensic examinations, including criminalistic ones. It also helped to identify promising fields of examinations necessary for crime prevention. Therefore, authors singled out the following advanced fields: biometric and computer forensic analyses, polygraph, and odor and trace evidence analyses. The materials of the article are of practical value for forensic experts and criminologists, law enforcement agencies.

Keywords: Analysis of digital evidence, odor evidence analysis, polygraph, psychophysiological examinations, trace evidence analysis

How to cite this article:
Borysenko IV, Bululukov OY, Pcholkin VD, Baranchuk VV, Prykhodko VO. The modern development of new promising fields in forensic examinations. J Forensic Sci Med 2021;7:137-44

How to cite this URL:
Borysenko IV, Bululukov OY, Pcholkin VD, Baranchuk VV, Prykhodko VO. The modern development of new promising fields in forensic examinations. J Forensic Sci Med [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 May 25];7:137-44. Available from: https://www.jfsmonline.com/text.asp?2021/7/4/137/334490

  Introduction Top

In addition to positive impact, the world's significant political, economic, and social changes over the past decades have brought in certain negative phenomena such as the intensification and improvement of criminal activity. This is primarily due to significant scientific and technological progress, which has improved the living standards and at the same time brought negative consequences. Thus, new methods of committing crimes and their concealment have appeared; the most innovative technologies and means are used to implement criminal intentions and achieve criminal goals.

The situation is aggravated since the effectiveness of law enforcement officials in the prevention and investigation of these new types of crimes decreases against this background. The reasons for such a decrease are as follows: regulatory mechanisms are imperfect, the adoption of new legal rules is “slow in coming,” and scientifically based clear algorithms, methods, and techniques for combating the new challenges of the underworld are absent.[1] Forensic expert activity based solely on scientific knowledge is one of the most advanced and effective directions in the fight against constantly improving crime. This determines its specificity, which involves a forensic expert as a subject of forensic expert activity and special knowledge that entitles him to make certain statements in crime investigation.

The term “special knowledge” is commonly used in jurisprudence to express the above. Special knowledge is a characteristic of theoretical knowledge and practical skills in a particular field of science, acquired through occupational experience and not publicly available or generally known.[2] Special knowledge is the main characteristic of a forensic expert, which is reflected not only in the scientific but also in the legal field. It means that there are a number of requirements in legislation for determining the volume and duration of special knowledge in space and time.

Hence, a forensic expert forensically examines applying special knowledge in various fields of science and technology and thus provides law enforcement officials with important evidence to investigate crimes. In this regard, the tools and methods of forensic examination should be constantly improved to meet modern scientific achievements and thus solve the traditional problems in forensic examinations. There is also a need to search and identify new expert directions for obtaining evidentiary information. Under such conditions, the introduction of innovative technologies into the activities of experts becomes essential as it will radically affect the final result of the ongoing forensic examinations and, consequently, the quality of the investigation of a crime.[3]

The result of forensic expert activity and forensic examination, in particular, is an expert opinion, a service document whereby the forensic expert sets out motivated answers to the questions posed while commissioning expert investigation. An expert opinion also includes a description of the whole course of examination, methods, and technical means used at its particular stage. The results are mandatory reasoned. Besides, the requirements for improving forensic expert activities put forward by law enforcement agencies to get new sources of evidence, the forensic expert activity itself as the kind of scientific activity permanently specializes through complicating and automating examination processes, introducing innovative algorithms and computer technologies, etc.[4]

Although there is scientific and practical groundwork in forensic examination innovations, including criminalistic examinations, a wide range of fundamentally important issues is still unsolved. These issues concern legal and organizational-methodological challenges in introducing and using these technologies in forensic practice[5] (Counter, 2016). The purpose of this study is to analyze the content of new innovative directions in forensic examinations, including criminalistic ones, and the possibility of their effective application in forensic expert activity.

  Literature Review Top

Averyanova[6] has thoroughly studied this issue and believes that new scientific fields and types of forensic examinations appear and develop as a natural process of active scientific and technological progress. In one instance, the key element of this process is a new object, previously unknown, which can be examined by methods of an already known type of examination. In another instance, this is an already studied object, which allows expanding the range of tasks solved by a specific type of forensic examination due to the emergence of new methodological opportunities.

Under the modern development of forensic science, Belkin[7] believes that the integration of scientific knowledge is needed to develop, through synthesis, such a science that will make up a seamless whole in the complex unity and interconnection of the two sciences. Thus, Aliyev and Averyanova[8] noted that “… the solution of expert problems within one field of knowledge no longer provides the proper and qualitative level of expert examination. The process of differentiation in both scientific fields has reached such a level that the systematization of knowledge in these fields requires integration. An example is the examination of human sweat and grease deposits since their scientific foundations are formed on the synthesis of methods and knowledge in biology, biochemistry, and human physiology.” Volchetskaya[9] believes that the following types of forensic examinations have appeared over the past 20 years: a forensic authorship examination, forensic phototechnical examination, forensic speech and audio analysis, forensic examination of restoration of obliterated traces, and odor evidence analysis.

Among new types of forensic examinations, Segai[10] highlights a trace evidence analysis and believes that it is rather successfully developing within the forensic traceological examination. At the same time, Rossinskaya[11] notes that computer forensic analysis has appeared and developed over the past 10 years. Many scientists call it information technologies examination or digital (virtual) evidence analysis. Borovikov[12] believes that forensic linguistic examination has been actively developing lately. Considering the relevance of manageable tasks and modern development of linguistics and its branches, he also points out that some special linguistic examinations of written voice communication have been developed in addition to traditional ones. They can be used for analyzing phonograms of conversations if the specificity of oral speech is taken into account.

Wagner[13] points out that the developing field of forensic science includes forensic homology, or the doctrine of a human, for his identification. This doctrine is a symbiosis of little investigated and scientifically based, sufficiently developed, and tested in practice fields of forensic science. Sufficiently developed fields include habitology, traceology of homoscopic traces (fingerprints and palm prints, footprints, bare feet, and earprints), and handwriting examinations. Little-developed fields of forensic science involve the identification of psychophysiological qualities and traits of a person by individual behavioral and biometric parameters, which are as follows: the timbre of voice, handwriting features, the scaffold of the skull, auricle, circulatory system, etc., Thus, biometric analysis as a new type of forensic examination is being formed now in the leading countries of the world (USA, France, and England). Olsson[14] notes that forensic psycholinguistics was formed as a new area of scientific knowledge at the intersection of psychology and linguistics. Having analyzed forensic literature and works of the above scientists, the authors can single out the following most promising and effective types of examinations, many of which are already acquiring the status of forensic examinations:

  • Biometric analysis
  • Computer forensic analysis
  • Polygraph examination
  • Odor evidence analysis
  • Trace evidence analysis.

  Methodological Framework Top

In the course of the research, the authors used a set of general scientific and special methods to achieve the set goal. The methodological basis of the study is the dialectical method of scientific knowledge, which allowed the authors to consider the theoretical and scientific, and practical foundations of modern trends in forensic examinations, including criminalistic ones. It also helped to identify promising fields of examinations necessary for crime prevention. In the research, this methodology was also a foundation for applying special scientific methods of cognition. Thus, with chronological and comparativehistorical methods, the authors studied the reasons that prompted the need to search, introduce, and develop new types of forensic examinations. The most promising fields in forensic examinations are identified on their basis, given the development of scientific and technological progress and the introduction of innovative technologies in forensic expert activity.

By the logical and semantic method, the general scientific meanings of the following notions were examined: special knowledge, biometrics, odorology, thermogram, polygraph, detection, polygraphy, traceology, etc. The authors analyzed the content of numerous definitions, determined their volume within the research, and substantiated their use in forensic expert activity and their possibility to be determinant terms in distinguishing new promising fields of forensic examinations. The systemic and functional method was used to determine common and individual characteristics of the new fields of criminalistic examinations and define their place in the general classification of forensic examinations. Methods of sociological research and expert assessments were used to study public interest in new types of forensic expert activity and the possibility to apply this knowledge for developing new fields of forensic examination.

A comparative and methodological method allowed identifying common patterns in various research methods applying to forensic examinations. This method was also aimed at the search for new algorithms, methods, and techniques for solving identification, classification, diagnostic, and situational expert problems with the help of the developed methodology and through the analysis of the modern forensic expert practice in leading European countries and the United States. It also helped to determine the practical effectiveness of new directions in forensic examinations. Promising fields of forensic examinations, including criminalistic ones, have been substantiated with the structural and logical method. The authors argued the necessity of their implementation, identified the problematic issues related thereto, and suggested the directions of their solutions. Methods of mathematical statistics were used to study the current state of forensic expert activity and introduce innovative technologies in forensic examinations at the global level. The authors also applied methods of the forecast to distinguish the most promising fields in forensic examinations, including criminalistic ones, by identifying their characteristic capabilities based on the needs of law enforcement officials.

The theoretical basis of the research is the work of scientists from leading European countries and the United States in the field of physics, chemistry, biology, zoology, forensic science, medicine, psychology, computer science, and others. The empirical base of the research is the results obtained by analysis and generalization of official statistics of the American Polygraph Association and forensic expert activities of leading European countries (Great Britain, France, Germany, etc.,) and the USA.

  Results and Discussion Top

Let us consider the highlighted new fields in forensic examinations in more detail, namely: biometric analysis, polygraph examination, computer forensic analysis, odor, and trace evidence analyses.

Biometric analysis

A biometric analysis is a certain symbiosis of different research areas that study individual characteristics of a person for his subsequent identification. In other words, biometric identification is a new method for establishing identity by individual biological characteristics of a person (the timbre of voice, handwriting features, gait, the scaffold of the skull, auricle, circulatory system, etc.).

Biometrics is now of particular interest since it allows identifying a criminal by data from the scene. Biometric methods have been so far used for identification purposes (e, g., in the immigration and commercial fields). Modern biometric recognition techniques are based on the latest developments in innovative technologies operating in automatic or semi-automatic modes that allow continuous monitoring of video information. The algorithm of the recognition process has already been configured, the main stages of which are as follows:

  1. Biometric data collection
  2. Data localization and cleaning
  3. Identification and fixation of evidence
  4. Identification.

The key stage of the biometric recognition algorithm is the establishment of identity, that is, the identification process itself.[15] Biometric methods used in forensic examinations are primarily aimed at detecting and developing a complex of individual identification characteristics as a biometric system. In turn, such a complex should have increased stability, individuality, and sufficiency. The second goal of biometric methods is to form sufficient, automated databases of objects with the above characteristics. Based on this, biometric identifications can be carried out in two ways, namely:

  1. Establishing the identity of the object under investigation (in most cases, an image of a criminal in the commission of a crime) with a specific potential sought object (e.g., an image of a suspect in a crime recorded by methods of forensic photography)
  2. Identification of the object under investigation with the objects present in the database.[5]

The most effective object of biometric analysis is video, audio, and photo information obtained from various multimedia sources on the internet. Social networks are the most probable sources to obtain this information. However, fewer than all technologies allow using biometric methods of examination to the full extent. The potential of these technologies as one of the main sources of evidence has not yet been fully disclosed and implemented in crime investigations and, in particular, forensic examinations. Although automated fingerprint identification systems (AFISs) are successfully used in identifying criminals, missing persons, and unidentified corpses, it is still impossible to use them (AFIS) without a human operator when inputting trace information and running fingerprints through databases.

Controversial issues also include the possibility of forming automated databases of scars, seams, tattoos, and other special marks on the human body for subsequent identification of a person. It is still problematic to develop unified international standards for methods of biometric analysis, create formation models for complexes of individual characteristics used to exchange information quickly, and establish reliable testing procedures for biometric devices and software. Methods and techniques of biometric analysis also require the speed and accuracy of information collection and processing unrelated to the event under investigation to be significantly increased (e.g., processing a video with many people and identifying a suspect).

Even though there are problems at the present stage of the development of biometric analysis, it plays a significant role in forming evidentiary information in both investigations and proceedings. The results of a biometric analysis can be both categorical and probabilistic.[16] When a probabilistic form is applied to solve a problem, the methodology of biometric analysis should involve calculating the degree of probability of a conclusion to assess the evidentiary force of an expert opinion. Nowadays, digital evidence rather than physical evidence is becoming easier to identify at the scene. Sources of digital information, which will be discussed later, are the internet, computers, CCTV cameras, mobile phones, telephone networks, social networks, etc.

Biometric technologies allow recording the following information about a person: the structural features of an iris of a pupil, the structure of the ear, features of appearance and facial expressions, lips movement, and the voice itself. In many cases, recorded visual information which reflects features of the suspect's face has low quality so that it is impossible to identify a person by it. However, audio-visual voice recording with lips movement, facial expressions, in general, gait, and gestures is an invaluable source of recognition in the above cases. At the same time, these biometric analyses require complex interactive methods of examinations to be further developed. We believe that audiovisual biometrics will soon become a breakthrough in the development of forensic examinations of biometric objects.

Now, it is worth dwelling in more detail on the biometric analysis of traces found at the scene and their complex forensic examination. Thus, the detection, fixation, extraction, and examination of homoscopic traces at the scene involve using several technical, tactical, and methodological techniques to obtain evidentiary information.[17] Biometric technologies allow identifying and fixing fingerprints and palm prints, handwriting in handwritten documents, professional skills reflected through certain objects, and habits reflected in the material environment of living. For example, establishing the age of a fingerprint could be very important to determine whether a suspect was at a scene before or after a crime was committed. In addition, if one uses the whole electromagnetic spectrum (infrared, ultraviolet, and X-ray), potential biometric data can be revealed even in a latent state and used then in forensic examinations (e.g., examinations of the qualitative and quantitative characteristics of additional contaminants, and DNA analysis).

Three-dimensional (3D) face recognition compared to two-dimensional (2D) is of great importance in biometric analysis. The capabilities of modern technologies for processing and analyzing 3D images made it possible to read out identification information obtained from 3D images of a person. Thus, there are assumptions that 3D face shooting and identification based on it can be soon successfully used in forensic and criminalistic examinations. A 3D face image of a person can be obtained from a video caught on a surveillance camera while committing a crime.[18] Thereupon, the degree of similarity between the two 3D images is estimated to identify a suspect in a crime.

The task becomes more complicated when it is necessary to establish the coincidence between the 2D face image of the criminal at the scene and the 3D face image of the suspect. Meanwhile, the 3D image is converted into 2D through a special technology of key anthropometric points, followed by comparison and obtaining the result. Given the above, the importance of biometric analysis in investigating crimes becomes obvious and indisputable. However, this direction requires methods and technical means to be further developed and adapted for solving problems in criminalistics and forensic examinations.

Computer forensic analysis

As mentioned above, rapid scientific and technological progress has been particularly reflected in the development of computer technology. This fact entailed new methods of crime when a criminal acts remotely using a virtual field and leaving not material but the so-called digital traces of a crime. In turn, law enforcement officials have faced new tasks to prevent, detect, and investigate such a type of crime as cybercrime. Computer forensic analysis significantly helps to obtain evidentiary information in investigating cybercrimes. Its fields include the following examination: computer hardware, computer software, computer information, computer network, and telematics.

The division into these directions is conditional since computer forensic analysis is carried out in a complex manner in most cases. However, we will not dwell on all fields of computer forensic analysis but study and analyze the most difficult but promising one. Digital evidence analysis, or telematics examination, was recently a part of a computer network examination and has received the status of an independent one due to the rapid development, distribution, and availability of many telecommunication devices.

Digital evidence is information in graphic, text, or any other digital (virtual) format, which indicates the fact of a crime, the guilt of a person, and other circumstances that establish the truth in investigating crimes. However, there is a problem of recognizing this kind of evidence as such, although its use is very efficient, especially in the investigation of cybercrimes. The primary reason is the insufficient development of methods and means of detecting, fixing, extracting, and analyzing digital evidence.[19] In a telematics examination, the following five fields have been distinguished for detecting, fixing, and analyzing digital evidence:

  1. Examination of mobile devices, which are the most common carriers of digital evidence found at the scene. Phones are a source of important information such as call logs, SIM contacts, incoming messages, multimedia messaging service and short message service, images, video, audio, chats, documents, and network information
  2. Examination of mobile and stationary computers, which are also carriers of digital evidence stored in such devices
  3. Network examinations related to computer network policy and network traffic, local area network or WAN
  4. Examination of databases, which involves their review and verification. Separate subtypes of this direction are the study of metadata and databases from mobile devices (e.g., a car)
  5. Email examination, which aims to find and identify deleted emails and contact information.

Methods and means for detecting, fixing, extracting, and analyzing digital evidence require a number of development tasks to be solved:

  1. Means of increasing the speed of information processing
  2. Preventers to the rapid network distribution of information
  3. Reliable means of protecting evidentiary information against its theft, distribution, misinterpretation, substitution, etc.
  4. The legitimacy of the digital evidence obtained
  5. Means of preventing attacks on confidential information
  6. Standards for studying cybercrimes.[20]

The authors can conclude that the investigation of crimes and cybercrime, in particular, relies more and more on computer forensic analysis, especially the telematics one aimed at searching, detecting, fixing, extracting, and analyzing digital evidence. Digital evidence differs from physical and even ideal one mainly in its ability to be distributed between different virtual or physical locations such as cloud resources, social networks, and storage devices connected to personal networks. Thus, forensic experts and criminologists need more experience, time, tools, and the development of new methods and approaches for an effective and complete search of digital evidence, its restoration, fixation, and protection with subsequent legitimization.

Polygraph examination

This type of examination is a complex psychophysiological examination carried out in the form of testing. Testing can be carried out to identify false data or diagnostic psychophysiological characteristics that portray certain qualities of a person. In this connection, the polygraph is also called a “lie detector,” which, in turn, allows to obtain evidentiary information when it is used in investigating a crime. The key benefit of using polygraphs in investigating crimes is their complete safety and harmless for an examinee. Psychophysiological examinations with a polygraph provide high accuracy of results.

Krapohl[21] believes that the polygraph should be used during law enforcement intelligence operations as well as pretrial investigations, forensic psychological examinations, and working with employees, also he argues that the polygraph examiner's opinion can be considered as evidence in a criminal case. However, Vrij and Granhag,[22] the professor at the University of Portsmouth, Psychology Department, hold a different opinion: “given the number of mistakes made by polygraph tests …polygraph results should not be considered …as reliable evidence… However, polygraph examinations can serve as a source of intelligence information or a means of lie detection.” According to the American Polygraph Association,[23] polygraph examinations consist of three stages:

  1. Screening interview
  2. The stage of data collection during testing
  3. Test data analysis.

Each stage greatly influences both the accuracy and effectiveness of the test results. In this regard, such examinations should be conducted in strict compliance with empirical data obtained and scientifically grounded theoretical provisions in biology, medicine, and psychology. A screening interview is an important stage in this examination provided for an examinee's preparation for the test, its purpose, and explanation of the main issues. The interview also has a tactical significance – an expert establishes psychological contact with an examinee, which results in increased effectiveness of testing and more qualitative important information.

The second stage of the polygraph examination is data collection during testing. All methods of polygraph examinations include relevant questions (RQ) aimed at establishing the time, place, circumstances of a crime and the connection of an examinee with them. The greatest effectiveness in polygraph examination results can be achieved when formulating simple and direct questions. One should avoid slang expressions or professional terminology that the examinees may not understand or which meaning may be ambiguous. Each question should be posed to trigger a specific psychophysiological reaction of an examinee's body. These reactions are recorded after each posed question. The basic principle of testing an examinee and fixing his psychophysiological reactions is to obtain several results after each question he becomes concerned with. This is achieved by multiple component sensors designed to track increases or decreases in activity in the autonomic nervous system.[24]

The third stage involves test data analysis. The procedure of the test data analysis is designed to separate and compare the sources of response dispersion, namely, response dispersions to RQ and completion quality. The answers are digitally coded, and the result is compared with the average statistical standards for the degree of expectation of lies and truth people have in certain situations. Forming the course and results of the polygraph examination does not differ from the evaluation of other scientific tests in medicine or psychology and also consists of four main stages:

  1. Identification of observable or measurable criteria
  2. The transformation of the recorded psychophysiological reactions into numerical values and their reduction into a general final index for assessing by both general and intermediate indicators in individual test tasks
  3. Statistical calculations and evaluation of results
  4. Drawing conclusions.

Given the above, the authors can state that it remains controversial to use psychological data obtained from polygraph examinations in investigating crimes. The lack of common scientifically grounded methods for analyzing test (examination) results is the greatest obstacle in polygraph examination development. This obstacle concerns the problems in establishing cause-and-effect relationships between an examinee's psychophysiological reactions and test questions.

In theory, a polygraph examination works on a simple principle, namely, anxiety caused by a lie. However, anxiety has many causal factors, one of which can be deception. This is the reason many scholars treat claims about polygraph examinations with skeptics. Although it is called a “lie detector” in the vernacular, all the results of psychophysiological examinations are of a probabilistic nature. However, one should not underestimate the prospects of this type of examination in forensic expert activity. At this time, the polygraph examination is an effective source of intelligence information for investigating crimes and sometimes acts as indirect evidence in establishing the truth when there is existing consistent evidence.

Odor evidence analysis

Odorology is the science of smells. Even though we considered biometric analysis as a type of forensic examination above, odor evidence analysis should be examined separately. Homoscopic traces system includes human odor traces, which form a complex combination of various volatile organic compounds. These compounds are secreted by human skin and represent identifying chemical traces. Let's consider the very process of the formation of a human odor. Hence, human skin can be divided into two layers: the epidermis and the dermis. The epidermis is composed of stratified epithelium, which dies off when it rises to the surface. The dermis is composed of dense connective tissue and replete with blood vessels, connective tissue, and nerve endings. The skin has several appendages such as nails, hair follicles, sebaceous glands, and sweat glands.

The subcutaneous layer, which is under the dermis, consists of loose connective and adipose tissue. Its function is to attach the dermis to the underlying tissues and also contains sweat glands. These glands secrete to the skin surface through ducts that run longitudinally through the dermis and epidermis. Sweat is a mixture of water, salt, and metabolic products. Establishing a person by his smell has been known to humanity for a long time, thanks to the use of dogs. However, this method is not a scientific one and depends largely on the ability of a dog.

The existing methods of identifying a person by his smell with the help of dogs are subjective in most cases. The disadvantages of this method are the time-consuming dog training and the reduction of dogs' performance in humid and hot climates. Thus, it is possible to use the same concept of identifying a person by his body odor with the help of scientific instruments (detectors) rather than dogs. A number of carried examinations have shown the high stability and “vitality” of odor traces in conditions of extreme thermal, mechanical, radiation, and chemical activities.

Human odor traces were further examined using gas chromatography. As a result of these examinations, scientists have concluded that the human odor is a combination of volatile organic compounds, which can be used for identification since they have unique compounds of chemical elements. During one of these examinations, scientists have also reasoned that there is a relationship between age, sex, race, and odor profile, subject to further examination. Examinations were also carried out to detect human remains by volatile organic compounds emanated from them through the purge-and-trap method in free space and the method of sampling. It justified further scientific research in this direction.[25]

The “electronic nose” a device developed at the University of Leicester (UK), has recently proved that it can distinguish between two people with similar lifestyles and activities. The examination results have shown even a difference between people using deodorant, which significantly reduces the activity of armpit bacteria.[26] Therefore, one of the most promising innovative areas of examinations is to develop such devices as “electronic nose.” In conclusion, the authors can note the importance of odor evidence analysis in forensic expert activity for investigating crimes. If the methods for human odor examination as an identifying biomarker are developed with scientific and technical means, it will allow searching for criminals, missing persons, and establishing the burial place of the victims who died of violent death.

Trace evidence analysis

The need to use an integrated approach in solving the problems of forensic examinations, which was mentioned above, led to the integration of two branches of forensic science: traceology and forensic materials and substances science. The reasons for such a symbiosis were the need to identify and diagnose the contact interaction between the offender and the victim, especially with mechanical, thermal, and other effects on the victim's clothes by the instrument of crime. As a result, a new complex field in forensic examinations was formed – trace evidence analysis. Kemp et al.[27] believed that trace evidence analysis refers to combined types of research and does not require to be singled out as a separate type of forensic examination. They also consider its tasks are solved based on the synthesis and integration of knowledge in traceology and forensic materials science.

Depending on the solution of problems, among which the traditional are identification, classification, and diagnostic, and given the traditional fields in forensic trace examinations, the following directions of trace evidence analysis can be distinguished:

  • Identification and diagnostics of the instrument of contact interaction
  • Establishing the fact and type of contact interaction; establishing the whole by its parts
  • Classification and diagnostics of mass-production items.

The complex trace evidence analysis has distinctive features since all changes on the object under investigation caused by contact interaction are diagnosed based solely on the material from which it is made. Second, given the complexity of the structures of contact interaction under investigation, trace-forming and trace-perceiving objects are interchangeable depending on the tasks an expert faces. The examination of the damaged fabric begins with determining the type of material and the nature of the damage (puncture, cut, etc.). Then, there are experiments when the undamaged part of the fabric is damaged in compliance with one under investigation. A special type of trace evidence analysis is the forensic examination of fibers.

Factual data (actual circumstances) are considered as a subject of trace evidence analysis. They are significant for legal proceedings and established by the experts' solution of a general (integrated) problem through the synthesis of special knowledge in traceology and fiber science by examining traceological and fibrous objects, presumably related to the incident (crime). Based on the analysis and generalization of expert practice, the following typical tasks of forensic examinations of fiber traces have been identified: establishment of a homogeneous (monolithic) whole in pieces when a common line of separation is absent; establishment of a composite whole; establishment of a complex whole; identification of the crime instrument; or the establishment of the fact of contact between the instrument and apparel. In this case, all tasks belong to the integrated class since their solution is based on the solution of several simpler problems with intermediate significance. Integration tasks, as a rule, are of identification or diagnostic identification nature (establishing the fact of contact interaction).

Kemp et al.[27] have also emphasized that objects of trace evidence analysis require to be examined by supersensitive analytical methods, which have recently appeared in the arsenal of forensic experts. These methods allow to radically expand the base of traces in its traditional understanding as a result of mutual contact of trace-forming and trace-perceiving objects. The method of laser microspectral analysis was the most sensitive one until the present, evaporated 3000 atomic layers of a material in one sample, and did not distinguish many elements from their periodic system. Nowadays, especially accurate spectroscopic methods make it possible to analyze traces with a thickness of only one atomic layer, ensuring the recognition of any element of the Mendeleev periodic system. The problems of trace evidence analysis, which have been previously considered absolutely insoluble, can be solved with the help of these methods.

  Conclusion Top

Having researched the modern trends in the development of new promising fields in forensic examinations, the following conclusions can be drawn. New independent types of research in forensic examinations and separated from the already existing ones are primarily due to scientific and technological progress against the background of political and economic changes, both positive and negative. The rapid development, improvement, and implementation of innovative technologies in the professional and everyday life of people have set a difficult task for forensic scientists to introduce them into forensic expert activity and develop a methodological base for them. The difficulty also lies in the fact that these technologies are quite successfully implemented in criminal activities.

We have highlighted the most promising and advanced fields in forensic examinations. All of them require an integrated approach since experts in different fields of knowledge should be involved in their implementation. Thus, conducting biometric analysis requires the involvement of experts in the field of forensic science, medicine, biology, chemistry, etc., Polygraph analysis relies on such sciences as psychology and medicine. Computer forensic analysis entails the expert having knowledge in a range of innovative technical sciences and forensic science. Odor evidence analysis requires knowledge in forensics, zoology, and various technical sciences. To conduct trace evidence analysis, an expert should have deep knowledge in physics, chemistry, forensic science, etc. All the above, taking together, require new approaches to the expert's training, expansion of the examination tools of a forensic expert, and improvement of the methodological base.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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