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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 203127 Find in a Library
Title: Web-Based Survey of Odontologist's Opinions Concerning Bitemark Analyses
Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences  Volume:48  Issue:5  Dated:September 2003  Pages:1117-1120
Author(s): I. A. Pretty M.Sc.
Date Published: September 2003
Page Count: 4
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper reports on the findings of a survey of forensic dentists to obtain their views on some key principles of bitemark theory and contentious issues within the discipline.
Abstract: The Web-based survey was written in PEARL and hosted on a standard Internet server. Individuals who visited an odontology Web site were asked to participate. A link was also placed on a popular forensic search engine, and individuals were asked via e-mail to participate. In order to ensure that the data collected reflected the opinion base of those who are active within the field of bitemark analysis, responses from individuals who had not completed one bitemark case were not included in the analysis. A total of 72 odontologists with experience in bitemark analysis responded to the survey. Ten percent of the respondents had been involved in 20 or more cases, and 20 percent has participated in between 10 and 20 cases. Only 4 percent of the respondents had completed two or less cases. In discussing survey responses, this paper focuses on opinions regarding the uniqueness of the human dentition, analysis of bitemarks, adherence to guidelines, exclusion of suspects, and the continuing use of bitemark evidence. Ninety-one percent of the forensic dentists questioned believed that the human dentition is unique; 78 percent believed that this uniqueness is replicated on human skin during the biting process. When questioned about the ability of suitably trained individuals to positively identify an individual from a bitemark on human skin, 70 percent stated this was possible. Perhaps the most important result of the survey was the finding that none of the respondents favored suspending bitemark analysis; the vast majority agreed that such evidence should be analyzed and reported by appropriately trained odontologists. In commenting on the survey findings, the author notes that there is currently a lack of quality controlled investigations into bitemark analysis. He recommends further research that will lead to more objective analysis techniques and demonstration of the error rates of such techniques when used by odontologists. 2 figures and 21 references
Main Term(s): Police policies and procedures
Index Term(s): Dental analysis; Forensic sciences; Investigative techniques
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