Kathryn Pope – Founder of FHDI
Having worked in Banking for most of her life, on returning to work after having her children Kathryn Pope felt the need to try something new and on seeing an advert from Grampian Police – Scotland for a Questioned Document Examiner she applied. Kathryn fought off strong competition from the other applicants, most of whom were at least 20 years her junior, and at the age of 42 accepted the position and took on an exciting new challenge, which she was to enjoy and excel at for the next 9 years.
It was then that Kathryn recognised a definite gap in the marketplace and took a ‘leap of faith’ to form her own company Forensic Handwriting & Document Investigation ……..and the rest, as they say, is history!
In a recent interview Kathryn let us in on the secret to her continued success…..giving us a unique glimpse into the fascinating world of Handwriting & Document Investigation.
“I have been in this field of work for almost 34 years, initially with the Police and for the last 25 as an Independent Forensic Document Examiner.
Typically, I receive enquiries by telephone, direct in the mail or more commonly these days by email, requesting me to examine many different types of ‘Questioned’ documents including Wills, Mortgage Contracts, Guarantees, Leases, Anonymous Letters, Driving Licences and Prescriptions . Occasionally the casework arrives before I have received any notification that it is coming, or have been asked if I am available to undertake the work! I must stress it is so important to have this confidential material sent by at least Recorded Delivery and to contact me in advance to make sure that I will be there to receive it.
In the identification of handwriting its imperative for me to have sight of the original document whenever possible. I can look at photocopies but this will limit my examination and reduce my ‘Probability of Authorship’. I also require an adequate supply of ‘Formal Samples’ and ‘Known’ writings for comparison purposes. Armed with these, I can then undertake the comparison and forensic examination and produce a Forensic Science Report and, if appropriate, an Illustration describing my findings all ready for Court or Industrial Tribunal.
If a Lawyer is unable to send Kathryn the original documents by Registered Mail, Special Delivery or Courier she often has to visit a Lawyer’s Office, Police Station, Registers House or Procurator Fiscal Office to examine the originals and sometimes to take the ‘formal sample’ signatures for comparison from the client or accused.
Key to securing this Award was Kathryn’s continual commitment to source the latest technology within her field, in order to provide a more efficient customer-orientated service : “In the past it has been necessary for me to take my specialised Forensic Equipment such as a Video Spectral Comparator (VSC) which examine different inks, a huge very heavy piece of extremely expensive equipment. However, thanks to modern technology I now have a piece of equipment which undertakes similar examinations and plugs into my laptop. It is so small can fit in my hand – a Mi-scope.”
Kathryn also uses an Electro-Static Detection Apparatus (ESDA) to examine for indentations that may have been left from writings from paper sitting on top of the ‘Questioned Document’. This can reveal indentations that can give further clues as to who might have sent an anonymous letter.
“In my job no working day is the same as the next, which is what makes it so fulfilling. An interesting case that came in a while ago concerned a case of fraud that took place in Nairobi, where a gentleman died and the only person present was his girlfriend who had emptied the house and sold it possibly by forging his signature. This was another challenge I enjoyed sorting out.”
As a Certified Document Examiner, Award-winning Kathryn is a Member of the Expert Witness Institute and a Member of NADE – National Association of Document Examiners, and as such regularly attends the annual NADE Conference: ” A very important opportunity for professionals within the sector to share experiences of casework, new methodologies, and to talk to various specialised labs to keep abreast of the latest technology in Document Examination.”