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Title: Forces generated in stabbing attacks: an evaluation of the utility of the mild, moderate and severe scale
Authors: Nolan, Gary
Hainsworth, Sarah V.
Rutty, Guy N.
First Published: 16-Oct-2017
Publisher: Springer Verlag for International Academy of Legal Medicine
Citation: International Journal of Legal Medicine, 2018, 132 (1), pp. 229-236
Abstract: The commonest way of killing in the UK is by a sharp instrument. Knight reported in 1975 that it is impossible to discern with any degree of certainty the degree of force used to create a stab wound. Despite this, expert witnesses continue to approximate the degree of force used for their reports and evidence in court. It is usually subjectively categorized as mild, moderate or severe, based solely on the examination of the wound. We undertook a study considering forces generated in a range of blunt trauma actions, using a novel force plate dynamometer to measure the peak forces obtained by adult male and female volunteers. We then studied forces generated by stabbing skin simulants and porcine samples with knives and screwdrivers. Men generated more force than women during stabbings which was found to be equivalent to somewhere between the blunt trauma actions of pushing a button to a single-handed push. When asked to stab using what they thought was mild, moderate and severe force, although volunteers were able to actively decide the force used, the actual force was found to be influenced by the weapon, sex of the individual, hand used and biological/anatomical site penetrated. This study shows that the forces generated by volunteers in mild, moderate and severe stabbing tests in almost all cases were significantly greater than the forces required for skin penetration. We suggest that the use of subjective force scales is inappropriate. Rather than use of a subjective scale, we suggest that the force required in any stabbing requires investigation in four areas: the tip radius of the weapon, minimal force required for penetration, the sex of the assailant and whether the force required for penetration is greater than that that can be generated by a person stabbing. This allows for the use of an evidence-based two-tier scale to suggest the force required.
DOI Link: 10.1007/s00414-017-1702-7
ISSN: 0937-9827
eISSN: 1437-1596
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2017, Springer Verlag. Deposited with reference to the publisher’s open access archiving policy.
Description: The file associated with this record is under embargo until 12 months after publication, in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy. The full text may be available through the publisher links provided above.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine

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