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Staffordshire University student creates weapons database to crackdown on stabbings

A Forensic Investigation student at Staffordshire University has created a new database to identify weapons used in stabbings.

Lauren Yare led the study into textile stab damage for her final year project, testing weapons seized by Staffordshire Police along with household knives to build a database of characteristics to effectively identify knife types.

The 21-year-old explained: “I tested the weapons on four types of fabric and the damage produced different characteristics, such as fraying and curling. Blind testing was conducted to show the effectiveness of the database and overall it produced a 69% success rate.

“The police could use a database like this to help identify weapons used in stabbing crimes and potentially save valuable time in their investigations.”

Lauren is also completing a virtual six week placement with Staffordshire Police as part of the Staffordshire Forensic Partnership. She is working with the National Ballistics Intelligence Service to look at improvements when recovering evidence from gun crimes.

She will present findings from both projects in virtual presentations to Staffordshire Police this summer before returning to complete an MSc Forensic Science.

Lauren said: “It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to work with the police on a project like this. Everyone has been so welcoming and it is great experience for the future.”

Fellow Forensic Investigation student Hannah Vincent has been exploring a new method for recovering fibre evidence from crime scenes. The project was initiated by West Mercia and Warwickshire Police and Hannah has been working with research colleagues in both the UK and in Belgium. 

The 22-year-old from Nantwich explained: “We have been looking at Electrostatic lifting apparatus (ESLA) which are devices usually used to recover dust from footprints at crime scenes. The project explored whether ESLAs can also be used to recover fibres under various conditions and we tested different surfaces, voltage settings and relative humidity.”

The results showed that surfaces and voltage settings did have an effect, but relative humidity and the fibre type did not. The team are now writing up the research for publication internationally.

Both Hannah and Lauren have also been accepted to present their research at two external conferences, which is a rare achievement for undergraduate students.

Hannah now plans to complete a master’s degree at Staffordshire University and continue her research. She added: “I was always in the bottom sets at school and never thought that I could do anything like this. My lecturers have been amazing and have really helped to build my confidence – it shows what you can achieve with the right people around you and right support.”

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