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UN and Government carry out Training in Comparison Microscopy for Forensic Ballistics

Photo: Participants examine firearm marks found on a test-fired bullet on a comparison microscope under the watchful eyes of UNLIREC’s Technical Advisor.


The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), in collaboration with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, conducted basic Training in Comparison Microscopy for Forensic Ballistics at the Trinidad and Tobago Forensic Science Centre (TTFSC).

Phase 3 of the UNLIREC’s Combatting Illicit Firearms and Ammunition Trafficking in the Caribbean through Operational Forensic Ballistics, led to the development of a National Action Plan (NAP) and a case allocation protocol for the TTFSC, Firearms Section. Once implemented, the NAP will streamline functions and further integrate the Firearms Technicians at the Firearms Section. One element of the NAP is to build capacity by delivering basic training in comparison microscopy to Firearm Technicians at the TTFSC.

Four Firearms Technicians, formerly IBIS Technicians, and one Police Armourer participated in the two week microscopy training. The aims of the course were to provide participants with the ability to use a comparison microscope in order to conduct manual reviews for ballistic material comparisons, identify gun-dependent marks (e.g. firing pin, ejection, rifling and striation marks) found on recovered ballistic materials, understand how these marks are produced from the use of a firearm and it’s mechanism of action, utilise practical simulation using projectiles, cartridge cases and  weapons to match known pairs and discover linkages between crime samples.

Participants examined and test fired an array of pistols, revolvers, rifles and shotguns, reviewed test fire procedures, documented reproducible firearm marks found on spent casings and bullets, conducted microscopic examination of casings and bullets, and documented their findings as part of the training. Following this participants took part in collaborative exercises reviewing cartridge cases and bullets, then peer reviewing each other’s findings.

This Basic Training in Comparison Microscopy for Forensic Ballistics in Trinidad and Tobago was made possible thanks to the support of the government of the United States of America.

UNLIREC, as the regional organ of the UN Office for Disarmament, seeks to advance the cause of practical disarmament in Latin America and the Caribbean as part of its commitment to support Member States in their implementation of international disarmament and non-proliferation instruments, in particular, the 2001 UN Programme of Action on Small Arms.

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