Zurich Forensic Science Institute



Recording and Authenticating Individual Identifying Characteristics

Every human being is unique. The Authentication/Identification Department employs forensic methods to compare attributes such as appearance and handwriting or voice.

Specialist Unit Areas of Expertise

The Personal Identification Unit records physical attributes and takes photographs of detainees in accordance with legal requirements, using appropriate standardised methods. These include the electronic collection of fingerprints and – depending on the crime – the collection of saliva samples for the creation of a DNA profile. These data points form the basis for a positive identification of persons and are entered as evidence.

Whether it is using chemical and imaging techniques to reveal blood stains which have already been cleaned up, 3D scanning of crime scenes and other places of interest or recording close-ups of evidence in the photography studio, the Imaging Unit is responsible for technically demanding imaging procedures and stands at the ready to assist other units for any special imaging needs. In addition, images and video recordings from CCTVs and other recording devices are used for visual identification of individuals and the height determination of offenders. Biometric image measurements and 3D data (3D-Center Zurich)assist in forensic comparisons, although they cannot replace the practised eye of the human expert.

Forensisches Institut Zürich - Handschriften

Handwriting as an attribute of personal identification. The goal of forensic handwriting comparison is to clarify the authenticity of signatures and the authors of handwritten texts. The Handwriting Unit is responsible for investigating these questions, which remain relevant despite the progressive spread of electronic writing devices. Forensic handwriting comparison is distinct from graphology, which is the study of handwriting as an expression of a person's character.

From a legal point of view, documents are texts which are both created for and suitable for the purpose of proving a fact of legal significance (StGB Art. 110). The Questioned Document Unit investigates questions of authenticity and security of documents which were produced by printing or mechanical methods. The main objects of investigation are identity documents such as passports, and texts that were either printed or copied.