Determination of forces and penetration mechanisms in stabbing with improvised weapons

Stabbing is the most common form of homicide in the UK. The weapons used include kitchen knives, bayonets, swords, glass shards etc. However, often in stabbing incidents, improvised weapons that may seem initially blunt are used such as ballpoint pens, screwdrivers and chisels.

The force required to penetrate human skin by sharp objects such as kitchen knives are relatively low but how much force is required to penetrate skin by these blunter objects and what is the mechanism by which penetration occurs? The aim of this project is to objectively assess the forces required for penetration. A number of tests will be conducted to elucidate the forces required and the penetration mechanisms.

Initially, compression testing into foam-rubber analogues will be conducted in the Mechanics of Material Laboratory at the University of Leicester. Subsequently, tests will be conducted into porcine samples. High speed video will be used to assess the penetration mechanisms. Instrumented weapons will be developed to give an improved understanding of the forces required for skin penetration.

The work contained in this project will give an improved understanding of how blunt weapons penetrate skin and the forces that are required. This will give forensic pathologists improved insights into the forces required in stabbing incidents involving blunt weapons.

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East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit
Level 3, Robert Kilpatrick Clinical Sciences Building
Leicester Royal Infirmary
Leicester, LE2 7LX
United Kingdom

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