The Modular Forensic Handwriting Method - 2016 Version
Keywords:handwriting method, handwriting theory, handwriting complexity, simulation, disguise, traced signatures, evidence evaluation, reporting procedures
This document provides a summary of a practical method that can be used to compare handwriting (whether text-based or signatures) in the forensic environment. It is intended to serve as an approach to forensic handwriting examination for practitioners actively involved in casework, or for those interested in investigating general aspects of the practice of forensic handwriting examination (for example researchers, academics and legal professionals). The method proposed does not cover in detail all aspects of the examination of handwriting. It does, however, form the framework of forensic handwriting methodology in the government environment in Australia and New Zealand as represented by the Document Examination Specialist Advisory Group (DocSAG).
It is noted from the outset that handwriting is examined using complex human perceptual and cognitive processes that can be difficult to accurately and validly describe in written form since, for the most part, these processes are hidden. What is presented here is the agreed general approach that DocSAG practitioners use in the majority of the comparisons that they carry out. The method is based around a flow diagram which structures the comparison process and provides the reader with a guide as to the significant landmark stages commonly worked through in practical handwriting examinations. Where decision points occur within the course of the method flow diagram a series of modules have been developed which describe the nature of the decision under consideration and address relevant theoretical and practical issues. Each module is, as far as is practical, independent of other modules in the method. This assists in facilitating changes in the process over time that may result from theoretical, practical or technological advances in the field.
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