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Considerations on the ASTM Standards 1789-04 and 1422-05 on the Forensic Examination of Ink

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The ASTM standards on Writing Ink Identification (ASTM 1789-04) and on Writing Ink Comparison (ASTM 1422-05) are the most up-to-date guidelines that have been published on the forensic analysis of ink. The aim of these documents is to cover most aspects of the forensic analysis of ink evidence, from the analysis of ink samples, the comparison of the analytical profile of these samples (with the aim to differentiate them or not), through to the interpretation of the result of the examination of these samples in a forensic context. Significant evolutions in the technology available to forensic scientists, in the quality assurance requirements brought onto them, and in the understanding of frameworks to interpret forensic evidence have been made in recent years. This article reviews the two standards in the light of these evolutions and proposes some practical improvements in terms of the standardization of the analyses, the comparison of ink samples, and the interpretation of ink examination. Some of these suggestions have already been included in a DHS funded project aimed at creating a digital ink library for the United States Secret Service.

Keywords: ASTM standards; forensic science; ink examination; interpretation; quality assurance; standardization

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: The Forensic Science Service, 2920 Trident Court, Birmingham, B377YN, UK. 2: Ecole des Sciences Criminelles, University of Lausanne, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.

Publication date: September 1, 2010


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