Student - April 22, 2010

Importing fingerprints from roadside bombs

Ninke Brouwers studies Forensic Sciences at Van Hall Larenstein in Leeuwarden. She is now doing a final year assignment at the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee (Royal Constabulary), after she and a course-mate went through a traineeship at a forensic research agency in New Zealand.

Ninke Brouwers mixes gelatine for a ballistic research during her traineeship in New Zealand.
During our traineeship in New Zealand, one of the things we researched into was how a bullet enters the body.  Some bullets twist about inside the body while others are flattened into the shape of a mushroom. The aim of this ballistic research was to know more about the behaviour of a particular type of bullet often used in crimes. Another major research project in which we participated involved the tracing of methamphetamine in houses. Drug production can leave traces of drugs behind in a house. Living in such houses is very bad for the health, so we had to wear white suits and gas masks before entering them.
Working with people from another country is an essential experience. It's often said that people in the Netherlands have a very stressful lifestyle. It's true that the people in the office in New Zealand took their work much easier. There was less work pressure and more sloppiness. Above all, they were very friendly and took pains to help us progress.
I arrived home from New Zealand on a Wednesday. In the same week, someone from the MIVD (military intelligence and security services) came to screen me at my home. As I am currently doing a final year assignment at the Royal Constabulary, they had to find out if I pose a threat to the Netherlands.
My work involves making recommendations for the Royal Constabulary to improve anti-terrorism legislation for better security for us all. In Afghanistan, the Weapon Intelligence Team examines roadside bombs for fingerprints, which they then place in a database in the camp. It is illegal to feed such confidential details into a Dutch system. I have to find out whether it is judicially possible to bring these details into our country. These are of major importance for national security. If an Afghan terrorist who has planted a roadside bomb comes to the Netherlands, we could arrest him at the airport if his details are known to us, before he could blow things up here.'

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