Volume 47, Issue 5 (September 2002)
Forensic Handwriting Examiners' Expertise for Signature Comparison
This paper reports on the performance of forensic document examiners (FDEs) in a signature comparison task that was designed to address the issue of expertise. The opinions of FDEs regarding 150 genuine and simulated questioned signatures were compared with a control group of non-examiners' opinions.
On the question of expertise, results showed that FDEs were statistically better than the control group at accurately determining the genuineness or non-genuineness of questioned signatures. The FDE group made errors (by calling a genuine signature simulated or by calling a simulated sig-nature genuine) in 3.4% of their opinions while 19.3% of the control group's opinions were erroneous. The FDE group gave significantly more in-conclusive opinions than the control group.
Analysis of FDEs' responses showed that more correct opinions were expressed regarding simulated signatures and more inconclusive opinions were made on genuine signatures. Further, when the complexity of a signature was taken into account, FDEs made more correct opinions on high complexity signatures than on signatures of lower complexity. There was a wide range of skill amongst FDEs and no significant relationship was found between the number of years FDEs had been practicing and their correct, inconclusive and error rates.