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A critical review of approaches to mitigating bias in fingerprint identification

Ashton, Christie (2018) A critical review of approaches to mitigating bias in fingerprint identification. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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Fingerprint identification is a discipline used within forensic science which assists in criminal investigations1, 2. The process of fingerprint identification involves the comparison of crime scene evidence with known exemplars. This form of examination is heavily reliant on human examiners and their conclusions as to whether there is an identification, exclusion or insufficient information to identify3. This form of forensic identification has become a focus due to concern of the effects of cognitive bias on examiners conclusions. Concerns have prompted research into the area of approaches to mitigate bias throughout forensic fingerprint protocols. Research into the common sources of bias during a fingerprint examination was conducted to gain an understanding of how bias may potentially be reduced. Throughout this dissertation the psychological and forensic approaches to bias were reviewed and the international and Australian approaches to bias mitigation were discussed. This found that there was evidence of a widespread issue regarding human cognitive bias in fingerprint examiners, however, there were no uniform mitigation strategies in place. Limitations to recommended approaches and currently implemented strategies have been reviewed, identifying that there is still a need for further research into the theoretical approaches to overcome bias. Therefore, leading to the formation of a study that aims to identify the theoretical approaches as suggested by literature, and critically review the effectiveness of these methods in controlling and reducing bias. The potential outcome from the suggested study may result in a useful document that will provide the practical field of forensic science with a comprehensive and critical review of approaches to assist in the development of standardised protocols.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Supervisor(s): Thompson, Matthew and Speers, James
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