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Questioned documents examination at Kyiv Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Expertise

The rapid introduction of new information technologies positively affected the workflow and increased the efficiency of information exchange. At the same time, the significant dissemination of means of fixing information, operational printing, etc., their availability to the population contributed to the emergence of new and improvement of already known methods of committing crimes.

One of the most high-demand areas of work of the largest laboratory of KFI – Criminalistics Laboratory is technical research of documents (questioned documents examination).

Documents play an important role in forensics, which considers them as objects of study or as samples in conducting forensic examinations. According to Viktor Kostetskyi, the Head of the Laboratory, they are a multifaceted object of study, which combines the analysis of the form, manufacturing method, condition, composition and properties of its material elements with the identification of purpose, origin, authenticity, reliability of the content, etc.

The technical examination of documents is divided into examination of requisites of documents, examination of printed forms and examination of materials of documents. In the process of relevant research, forensic experts are doing the following:

  • to establish facts and methods of making changes to documents (cleaning, etching, correspondence, pasting of photo cards, letters, etc.) and identify their primary content;
  • to detect flooded, smeared, faded and other poorly visible or invisible texts (images) on various materials, as well as texts (images) on charred and burned documents, provided that the paper on which they are depicted has not turned into ashes;
  • to set the appearance and identify writing devices by strokes;
  • to determine the relative prescription of the document or its fragments, as well as the sequence of application of intersecting strokes;
  • to set whole parts of the document;
  • to establish a document made by mounting using photocopying and computer equipment;
  • to identify the person who printed the typewritten text, produced images of the print on the characteristics of the performer’s skills and more.

“The document is first and foremost examined by forensic experts in the document technical research department. If the question relates to establishing the executor of a signature or inscription made by hand, in this case, a specialist in the field of handwriting is involved in the work. In addition, the question of the ink dating of documents, which is determined in the department for the study of materials of substances and products, is investigated as well,” explains Viktor Kostetskyi, the Head of the Criminalistics Laboratory.

Depending on the questions put to the expert’s decision, several specialists can be involved in the study of one document and each person can study the object in the specialty.

It should also be noted that within the framework of research, experts use destructive and non-destructive research methods.

So, the methods of technical and forensic research of documents can be classified according to the conditions of their use, according to the stages of the process of expert research or according to the impact on the objects of study (for example, the division of methods into destructive and non-destructive, etc.).

“During the technical examination of documents, objects are examined visually using special instruments. The prescription of a document is already visual and chemical research,” says Viktor Kostetskyi and emphasizes that when using destructive research methods, the initiator of the conclusion must give written consent to this.

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