(Received 21 July 2000; accepted 25 February 2001)
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Crime laboratories in the USA, who undertake fiber examinations, together with members of the European Fibres Group (plus representatives from Israel, Japan, Canada, and Australia) were surveyed in 1994 and 1995, respectively, and asked to provide subject-specific information relating to personnel, equipment, training, quality control, and techniques available. The information obtained showed that generally more fiber casework is carried out in Europe than in the USA. Most laboratories are quite well equipped but those in Europe seem to be able to obtain more state-of-the-art instrumentation. Proficiency testing and peer review is accepted practice worldwide. Americans appear to update fiber collections on a more regular basis than Europeans but both keep literature up to date. Contamination is a major issue, as with all areas of trace evidence. The results from the survey suggest that minimum standards are clearly not always being observed. Careful consideration also needs to be given as to whether legitimate contact could have occurred prior to an offense being committed.
The standard of forensic fiber examination worlwide is generally high. With laboratory management continuing to support the work of the Scientific Working Group for Materials and the European Fibres Group and by instigating “best practice” as set out in their guidelines, standards should continue to improve.
R&D Fibres Consultant, The Forensic Science Service, London Laboratory, London,
Stock #: JFS15150J