From 30 November 2020 to 11 December 2020, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), in collaboration with the Governments of Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, hosted an online Examination of Fired Ammunition Components and Comparative Pattern Analysis Theory (Virtual) Course.

Since 2015, UNLIREC’s Technical Assessment of Forensic Firearms Laboratories in the Caribbean identified a need to increase the human resource capacity in ballistics laboratories to effectively combat all cases of armed violence. Several States have embarked on various initiatives to increase their human capacity, with the support of UNLIREC. In an effort to boost the capacity of firearm examiner trainees, UNLIREC hosted a two week online course on the Examination of Fired Ammunition Components and Comparative Pattern Analysis Theory.

Twenty-nine firearm examiner trainees, firearm technicians, police officers and scientific officers including (11) females from the Royal Barbados Police Force, the Guyana Forensic Science Laboratory, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and Trinidad and Tobago Forensic Science Laboratory took part in the training. The course included a review of basic laboratory examinations involving fired ammunition components from handgun, rifle, and shotgun ammunition to allow participants to correctly classify ammunition components and correctly identify class characteristics on spent ammunition. The course also reviewed the basic premises of firearm and toolmark identification, exposed participants to the differentiating toolmarks made by multiple tools and introduced the concept of contextual bias in firearm and toolmark identification.

The “Examination of Fired Ammunition Components and Comparative Pattern Analysis Theory” course has contributed to the scientific and judicial development of trainee firearms examiners, making them more knowledgeable on the examination of minute details reproduced on spent ammunition parts as well as their unbiased, scientific role in the judicial process. The course built capacity among the participants to combat all instances of firearms criminality, including cases of illicit firearms trafficking, by improving their ability to examine illicit firearms and ammunition used in cases of armed violence.

The course forms part of Phase 3 of the Operational Forensic Ballistics technical assistance provided to the Caribbean States, with the financial support of the Government of the United States.

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 2001 UN Programme of Action on Small Arms.