Forensic Handwriting Analysis: A Detailed Overview
Strokes, loops, and other characters that are part and parcel of the written language were formulated by humans more than 6000 years ago, creating an indelible mark on history. This is handwriting. Whether it is a stylus or a pen on paper, handwriting is one of the most idiosyncratic forms of expression. Studying handwriting is a major part of the syllabus of forensic science.
A trained examiner, often referred to as an FDE (Forensic Document Examiner), may be able to correctly identify if a signature or note is genuine. They can spot the likely writer, too, in some familiar contexts. The far-reaching consequences of forensic handwriting analysis and examination have made it popular enough to be used by law enforcement agencies.
FDE(Forensic Document Examiner) uses the technique of process mapping to identify the facts in the handwritten document. They look at the alignment, allograph, commencement and termination of the strokes, arrangement, construction, connecting strokes, and much more. Assuming an imaginary baseline or concerning a real line, how does a person position his or her writing? This is all about alignment, and that is the basic pointer for saying whether or not that person is the original author of the note.
A set of characteristics that are shared by a definite set and group of writers who have definite pointers commonly in their handwriting style is defined as a “class.”There are multiple classes of handwriting. For example, copywriting is one of the classes.
Similarly, identifying the class of writing is based on the strokes at the end of the beginning of the letters that lead into another letter. The connecting stroke, specifically the line that connects the adjacent letters, is a clear indicator of individuality.
Construction based forensic handwriting analysis
The direction, number, as well as stroke sequences are taken into account too. This shows how these letters are produced or how the overall signature is produced.
If any of these identifiers are comparable to another handwriting style, then the classes are formed. Simply put, these classes would have similar handwriting styles. A combination of style, skills, and speed, as well as construction, contributes largely to a definite class of handwriting. Cursorily, this is hard to simulate unless and until a profound analysis is done by the forensic examiner.
Forensic examiners will use handwriting technology to detect people’s personality features. Human resources department staff members use graphology to review job applications. The handwriting strips of men and women are used at the matrimonial office to determine suitability for marriage. Career counselling is provided to people based on their handwritten notes after studying their personality attributes.
Employees can be better motivated by forensic investigators who analyse their handwriting. Children can be motivated towards better behaviour and development by having forensic handwriting analysis experts and top investigators analyse their handwriting.
Forensic examiner expertise, experience, and skill set are being used by law enforcement agencies for criminal profiling. These specialists may examine the handwriting on the kidnapper’s ransom notes and the blackmail letters. The FDE can determine the psychological condition of the specific individual who sent the letter, which aids in criminal profiling.
Manual forensic handwriting analysis
When you sign your full name, then it goes to show that you are a very individualistic person. You have your own individual style of doing things.
Similarly, when you are signing with the first letter of the name written as a capital letter, that shows that you give correct importance to yourself. You do not give unnecessary and too much importance to self which is good.
On the other hand, if you are signing your first name alone, that shows that you are too self centred. You love freedom, and you are independent most of the time. Usually, this set of people is conscious about their life and everything related to them. They do not like anything that disturbs their work or schedule.
Computer based forensic handwriting analysis
If you have to do all of the work mentioned above, it is very time-consuming. You also cannot easily pass the baton to the next generation. Even after reviewing your observational logs and notes, they may be unable to pick up exactly where you left off. As a result, the examiner may occasionally lose focus in the middle. That makes manual examinations prone to errors.
However, similar types of analysis using similar features, pointers, and identifiers, when done with advanced tools and equipment, may give you significant details about the personality traits of the writer. This might be true by a larger margin, and the processing is done quicker in this case when computers are deployed for this purpose. Computer-aided graphology is a technique where the software does forensic handwriting analysis more precisely.
The samples are first scanned into the CAG software (Compliance Adherence and Governance), and then the images are pre-processed. The feature extraction done by the software presents you with the analysed features and the personality report.
So, how do they interpret the personality traits from the features identified in the script? Here is the explanation:
Word spacing and forensic handwriting analysis
The space between the words would tell the nature of the person. If the width is greater, then the person is a loner. He may not be seen in crowded areas as he prefers to stay alone. If the width is narrow, then the person is intrusive, and the cops can most often locate him in crowded areas. He loves being part of crowded spaces.
Often, page margins are overlooked by analysts in the novice stage. This is one of the most important identifiers. The left margins will denote the family roots. The risk taking capacity and the manipulative tendencies are indicated through the right margin settings. The top page margins identify the person’s respect towards the authority and seniors. Foot margins indicate a person’s capacity and potential to face challenges and approach towards the future.
For example, if you find a bigger left margin, that goes to show that the person wants to be away from the roots and origins. If the margin is narrow, then the person is very attached to the roots and origins and would not like to go far away from the same. If the right margin is wider, then there is a constant fear in the person’s mind about the hypothetical or potential problems that might arise. If the right margin is too narrow, then that shows that the person is zealous and has got good risk taking capacity.
Happy writers usually have an upward alignment for the possible baseline. If the writer is ecstatic and exalted about something, this upward alignment is usually due to spontaneity.
The opposite is equally true, as a downward alignment indicates recent sadness or some kind of failure. Most often, the person must be afflicted by one or more issues that are pushing him/her to be somber.
People who are organised, disciplined in their lifestyle practices, and have a level-headed personality will have the best alignment ever. It is a difficult trait to find, even in some of the intellectuals out there.
People with high levels of attachments naturally apply added pressure to the pen. Most often, they dive deep into all the aspects of life. Thick emotions sometimes might push even the best to put pressure on the pen, which is evident on the paper.
If the indentations are not too many, then the writer is not applying much pressure while penning the document. Such people have less attachments, involvement and depth in general.
People who get anxiety attacks or who get stressed very fast do not apply much pen pressure at all. If the pressure varies from one letter to the next while comparing different letters from the same person, then the capricious nature of the individual shows that the energy levels are varying. Such a person lacks vitality.
Dimensions, distortions and deliberate attempts
The physical measurements of the letter sizes are called the dimensions. This is one of the important identifiers for the FDEs(Forensic Document Examiners). Vertical measures, horizontal measures, and proportions are taken into consideration for dimensional inferences and corresponding interpretations.
Similarly, some disguised writers deliberately alter their style of writing. Distorted writing can either be natural or part of disguised writing for special reasons. Letters appear unnatural in the distorted writing, but it can be because of the state of mind of the writer at that juncture.
Marks, symbols, or visible signs might ultimately convey subtle messages to the readers. This is known as a document. Some documents are not visible to the naked eye. This is a good old style of subtle writing that was practised even in the yesteryears by the kings and nobles. There may be embellishments used for this purpose too. Underscores and ornaments are also coming under the same category of documents.
The advantages and disadvantages of human cognition will be crucial to forensic casework as long as humans serve as the primary tool for examination and assessment in the forensic imprint and pattern testimony fields. Even though there is nothing profoundly wrong with these inferences, there may be a greater chance that material that is not pertinent to the position may influence the test.
Since task-relevant or other metadata can still influence quantitative measurements, they are not impervious to it. However, the influence may be more apparent with quantitative measurements. Human cognition is crucial to the judgments and effectiveness of FDEs and other examiners since not all penmanship and other pattern assessments are deterministically noticeable. That is where FDEs(Forensic Document Examiners) come into the picture. More interesting advanced forensic handwriting analysis methods are used here to create detailed handwriting or signature forgery detection reports for various kinds of disputes.