The Reliability of Swipe/Wipe Classification and Directionality Determination Methods in Bloodstain Pattern Analysis

Swipe and wipe are types of transfer patterns commonly encountered at bloodied scenes. So far, there have been little published data on the reliability of evaluating these patterns. In this study, 36 bloodstain patterns were randomly assigned to 12 analysts in three separate trials, and the analysts were required to evaluate the pattern type and directionality. The results revealed that correct classifications of patterns type were problematic, with an overall error rate of 32%. Wipes created from wet bloodstains were the most difficult to identify due to the absence of signs of alteration. The directionality of swipes made with a gloved finger had a 100% success rate; however, for swipes made with cloth, the analysts mistook the direction in nearly every case, which is of significant concern, considering these are common patterns at crime scenes. This study suggested there is a need for revising the current protocols for interpretation of these pattern types.