Elisabeth Briggs

Forensic Document Examiner and Handwriting Expert

MNatSc (Chem) MSc MCSFS MAE

Qualifications

I completed my Masters Degree in Natural Science at the University of Birmingham, with a specialism in Chemistry (MNatSc (Chem)) in 2000, followed by an MSc in Forensic Science at Strathclyde University in 2001. After leaving university I worked at the Horseracing Forensic Laboratory as a scientist in the equine and canine drug screening unit.  

​Between 2003 and 2005 I completed a two year training programme at the Grampian Police Forensic Laboratory in Aberdeen to become a forensic document examiner and was authorised by the Secretary of State for Scotland to examine and report handwriting and documents cases.

I have completed training courses in 'Excellence in Report Writing', 'Witness Familiarisation' and 'Cross Examination' organised by Bond Solon.

I am a Member of the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences and a Corresponding member of the Australasian Society of Forensic Document Examiners Inc. I am also a Practising Member of the Academy of Experts

 

I was a registered Forensic Practitioner until the Council for the Registration of Forensic Practitioners (CRFP) was disbanded in 2009.

I take part in regular proficiency tests supplied by Collaborative Testing Services, in common with many Forensic laboratories throughout the world.

Experience

I have over 15 years' experience as a Forensic Document Examiner, moving from Aberdeen to work at Document Evidence Ltd in Birmingham, which was acquired by Key Forensic Services Ltd in 2008, before becoming a self-employed expert consultant. During the course of my career I have worked with several of the most experienced Forensic Document Examiners in the UK. 

I have examined in excess of 1000 cases from private and corporate instructions, civil and criminal matters as instructed by legal advisors (including cases where I have acted as a 'Single Joint Expert'), government departments and direct instruction from various UK and foreign Police forces. I have also provided evidence for enquiries into media personalities and politicians, including a governmental inquiry in Malta.

​I have given expert evidence at court on many occasions, attending both magistrates and crown courts in the UK and worldwide, in person and remotely. I have also given evidence at employment tribunals and civil hearings.

 

I have provided training in relation to the use and interpretation of Electrostatic Detection Apparatus (ESDA – a tool used by document examiners to assist in detecting writing indentations on paper) on several occasions. This includes a bespoke course designed for and delivered in Madrid to members of the Guardia Civil, the national police force of Spain. I have also acted as trainer and mentor to several newly recruited document examiners during their own postgraduate training.

​I appeared on the BBC television programme 'Fake Britain' (season 5 episode 7) as an expert witness, 
demonstrating the methodology used in a case involving a forged will that was examined by me and subsequently featured in the programme. I also contributed to the BBC Radio 4 Podcast 'Fairy Meadow' broadcast in 2022, relating to the disappearance of three-year-old Cheryl Grimmer in Australia in 1970. 

Published works:

Barratt EM, Smith Y: Examination of an altered bar code on a vehicle tax disc. Science & Justice 2005 45(3): p135-9

Recent Conference Attendance

IASR, 3rd International eConference on Document Examination, March 2021

The American Society of Questioned Document Examiners:

78th AGM, Virtual meeting August 2020

79th AGM, Virtual meeting August 2021 

Australian Society of Forensic Document Examiners Inc:

Annual Scientific Meeting, Virtual meeting May 2021

Annual Scientific Meeting, Virtual meeting May 2022

Foster & Freeman Questioned Documents Symposium, July 2021

EQUIPMENT

My office is equipped with standard equipment used in the forensic examination of documents. This includes:

  • Hand magnifiers

  • Stereo microscope including digital camera attachment

  • Projectina Inspec 8s - for the examination of documents using infrared, ultraviolet and other specialised light sources. Images are captured electronically and can be included in reports

  • Projectina Docustat - electrostatic detection apparatus for the examination of documents for the presence of indented impressions

  • Typewriter measuring grids and DCS Typometer

  • Paper micrometer

  • Lightbox to allow examination of documents using transmitted light

Computer software includes Adobe Creative Cloud, including Photoshop, and Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, together with standard office software. 

 

Examinations are always best performed in the laboratory environment. However in the event of an examination off-site, portable equipment includes a flatbed scanner, a USB microscope, illuminated Regula magnifier and a Forensic Magnifier with integrated camera and specialised light sources.