From 8 – 18 July 2019, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), in collaboration with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, conducted basic training in comparison microscopy for forensic ballistics at the Trinidad and Tobago Forensic Science Centre (TTFSC).

This initiative, which forms part of UNLIREC’s programme aimed at combatting illicit firearms and ammunition trafficking in the Caribbean through operational forensic ballistics, led to the development of a National Action Plan (NAP) and a case allocation protocol for the TTFSC, Firearms Section. Once implemented, the NAP will streamline functions and further integrate the firearms technicians at the Firearms Section. One element of the NAP is to build capacity by delivering basic training in comparison microscopy to firearm technicians at the TTFSC.

Four firearms technicians, formerly IBIS technicians, and one police armourer participated in the two-week microscopy training. The GOALS of the course were to provide participants with the ability to use a comparison microscope in order to conduct manual reviews for ballistic material comparisons, identify gun-dependent marks (e.g. firing pin, ejection, rifling and striation marks) found on recovered ballistic materials, understand how these marks are produced BY A firearm and its mechanism of action, as well as how to use projectiles, cartridge cases and weapons to match known pairs and discover linkages between crime samples.

Participants examined and test fired an array of pistols, revolvers, rifles and shotguns, along with reviewed test fire procedures, documented reproducible firearm marks found on spent casings and bullets, conducted microscopic examination of casings and bullets, and documented their findings as part of the training. Following this, participants took part in collaborative exercises BY reviewing cartridge cases and bullets, then peer reviewing each other’s findings.

This basic training in comparison microscopy for forensic ballistics in Trinidad and Tobago was made possible thanks to the support of the government of the United States of America.

UNLIREC, as the regional organ of the UN Office for Disarmament, seeks to advance the cause of practical disarmament in Latin America and the Caribbean as part of its commitment to support Member States in their implementation of international disarmament and non-proliferation instruments, in particular, the UN 2001 Programme of Action on Small Arms.