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Prototypal forensic intelligence methodologies for the examination of illicit firearms

Pavlovich, Steven (2021) Prototypal forensic intelligence methodologies for the examination of illicit firearms. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

Within Australia, individuals and organised criminal syndicates trafficking firearms and manufacturing firearms and firearm parts have become regularly reported. The modular construction of modern firearms and the availability of generic firearm parts has also enabled the manufacture of illicit firearms that use frames, barrels, and trigger groups that incorporate illicit workshop, commercial factory, and generic brand parts combinations. Open-source international media statistics report a marked nationwide increase in the rate of illicit firearm seizure and illegal firearm activity, indicating an upsurge in the numbers of firearms available for criminal activity.

This research adopts and extends the concept of forensic intelligence1 (Bruenisholz et al., 2016) into new areas by examining the potential of forensic firearms intelligence to record and analyse database images of illicit firearms seized by police and border agencies in Australia. Analysis of such data creates robust investigative relationships between firearms, which may not otherwise be known. The exploration of feature extraction by previously unrecorded spatial data from images compares visual similarity algorithms using partonymic principles and 'producibility2 shows excellent potential for further development as a valuable tool of forensic firearms intelligence. The design, modifications, parts, and accessories of illicit firearms can be recorded using alpha numeric string codes within a searchable database to provide critical intelligence data which can back-capture and link suspects, locations, and manufacturing methodology used by criminal groups. The overarching aim of this thesis is to develop a broad forensic intelligence framework paradigm for the examination of illicit firearms using the ideology, forensic firearms intelligence can inform decision-makers and analysts within the police and government agencies by providing critical data not available from any other source. Critical data derived from the technical association of firearm components used by criminals and Organised Crime Groups (OCG’s) provides fact driven intelligence enabling the identification of new lines of inquiry for investigators and intelligence analysts.

This research makes a significant and original contribution towards forensic firearm examination by combining 'forensic intelligence' and 'illicit firearms' and providing research examples using open-source police data. It does not attempt to build upon mainstream forensic firearm knowledge; instead, it provides prototypal developments combined with research within a proposed new field of Forensic Firearms Intelligence (Australian-National-Audit-Office). This research work shows that the current technologies used to manufacture illicit firearms have advanced beyond the current capabilities of police intelligence analysts to record and interrogate firearm data effectively. This thesis presents several prototypal methods that use alternative approaches which can individually or in combination provide new data and direction for further research.

Keywords: firearm producibility profiling, forensic firearms intelligence, firearm string codes, spatial pattern comparison, partonometric analysis, deposition striae

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Medical, Molecular and Forensic Sciences
Supervisor(s): Poinern, Gerrard Eddy Jai and Speers, Samuel
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/63287
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