Abstract Over many years the use of composite structures in aerospace and automobile applications has been expanding. Thus, the study of weaknesses associated with composite materials has become paramount. Delamination is a fundamental concern with these structures, and mixed mode strain energy release rates are valuable information for analysing delamination cracks. The localised experimental–numerical technique (LENT), which measures local test displacement data and combines this with local finite element analysis to evaluate the mixed mode strain energy release rates, is examined via extensive experimental testing and analysis to provide validation for the technique. Additionally, a sensitivity analysis is presented to assess the influence of pixel size on the strain energy release rate results determined using LENT. Enhancements to the method are presented focusing on reducing the pixel size and improving post-processing techniques for increased accuracy. Variations in the local area analysed with LENT are also investigated. The results demonstrate that the localised experimental–numerical technique has potential for the evaluation of mixed mode strain energy release rates using localised test data.