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Improved crime scene investigations related to transfer, persistence and background abundance

Nowadays, Police Authorities deal with a growing complexity of crime scenes containing various types of trace evidence items that can also present safety hazards for the forensic experts and crime scene investigators. Traditional forensic crime scene analysis typically involves several techniques to inspect, gather and analyse collected trace substances. There is a need to improve these processes and make them more accurate, effective and sensitive in such a complex scenario, by employing modern approaches, for instance (but not limited to) nanotechnology, next generation sequencing or Artificial Intelligence.

A way to modernise forensic science for the professionalisation of crime scene investigations is through improving the understanding of the underlying phenomena governing the transfer of material from a surface to another, persistence of material once transferred, recovery process of the material as well as characterisation and expectations regarding the background noise.

Regarding transfer, persistence and background abundance, two different types of developments are needed: 1) of ground truth datasets accessible to the scientific community to support interpretation at the activity level for transfer of microtraces (paint, glass, soil), biological traces (body fluids, DNA), biometric traces (fingermarks, shoemarks), chemical traces (drugs, explosives, ignitable liquids); and 2) of methods of biological fluid (blood, semen, saliva, urine, etc.) identification for advanced forensic applications. The proposed activities should take into account the European dimension regarding harmonisation of the approach and cross-border acceptance of the collected evidence. A special attention has to be given to applicable legislation, ethics and fundamental rights, as well as to the well-documented use of scientific method to enhance transparency in the establishing of forensic evidence. The testing and/or piloting of the tools and solutions developed in a real setting with one or more Police Authorities and other relevant authorities is an asset; regardless, actions should foresee how they will facilitate the uptake, replication across setting and up-scaling of the capabilities - i.e. solutions, tools, processes et al. – to be developed by the project.

Coordination with successful proposals under topic SU-AI02-2020 (on AI research datasets), HORIZON-CL3-2021-FCT-01-04 (on ground-truth data sets for conventional forensics) and HORIZON-CL3-2022-FCT-01-02 (on common data formats) should be envisaged so as to avoid duplication and to exploit complementarities as well as opportunities for increased impact. Cooperation with the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes (ENFSI) is welcome.