Table of Contents
- What is Forensic Science?
- History Of Forensic Science
- Where and When Forensic Science Used?
- Why Forensic Science is Important
- What Skills Are Involved In Forensic Science
- Tool Kit For Forensic Scientists
- Crime Scene Procedure
- Reel vs Reality
What is Forensic Science?
Forensic science is the application of various scientific methods, principles, tools & techniques which aid in investigating criminal and civil cases. Generally, this involves collecting, analysing, and interpreting physical evidence found at crime scenes and applying scientific knowledge to answer legal questions in a court of law.
• Forensic science is the study and application of science to matters of law.
• Forensic Science (or Criminalistics) is using science & technology to enforce civil & criminal laws.
• It is vast & hard to define because it includes so many other areas of science.
Also Read: Forensic Science QnA
History Of Forensic Science
Forensic science has developed over the past 300 years, and the history of it can be traced back to ancient civilizations. The development of modern forensic science can be attributed to the work of several key individuals, including Sir Francis Galton, Alphonse Bertillon, and Edmond Locard. Its processes continue to improve and evolve today as science and technology find better and more accurate techniques. In 1929 the first American forensic lab was created in Los Angeles by the police department.
Also Read: Father of Forensic Science
Where and When Forensic Science Used?
Forensic science can be used in various cases, including criminal investigations, civil litigation, and regulatory proceedings. Law enforcement agencies, legal professionals, and scientific experts use it to identify, collect, and analyze physical evidence related to crimes or other legal matters. These days forensic science is used to investigate nearly all crime scenes. With the advancements of science, most forensic science techniques are a common and necessary part of a criminal investigation.
Why Forensic Science is Important
Forensic science has always played a role in criminal investigations. Still, with criminals committing clever, well-thought-out crimes more often, forensic science is now an essential tool for criminal investigations. It is important because it provides objective and reliable evidence that can be used to solve crimes, identify perpetrators, and exonerate innocent individuals. It helps ensure justice is served and the guilty are held accountable for their actions.
What Skills Are Involved In Forensic Science
Forensic science requires a combination of technical and analytical skills and knowledge of scientific principles and legal procedures. Some key skills in forensic science include critical thinking, attention to detail, communication, and problem-solving. Most needed skills are given below:
Observational skills – to be able to find and compare evidence. To be able to discover things the untrained eye may miss.
Evidence collection and analysis – this is vital to the role of a forensic scientist. Evidence that is collected must be well documented and contamination of evidence mustn’t occur. To collect evidence, a forensic scientist needs to be methodical and accurate.
Scepticism – healthy scepticism is an important part of investigating crimes. Everyone is a suspect until something concrete proves otherwise. It is also important to understand that witness accounts aren’t always accurate. It has been found that when referring to memories (such as during a witness account), most people have trouble getting all details correct, and most people’s perceptions are based on their personal lives and values.
Tool Kit For Forensic Scientists
Forensic scientists use various tools, equipment and software to find, collect, protect and transport evidence, including fingerprint kits, DNA analysis kits, chemical reagents, and digital forensic software. They also use specialized equipment such as microscopes, spectrometers, and chromatographs. Although each forensic scientist may do things a little differently, there are typical tools that they all use. The Most basic and important tools are:
✴ Crime scene tape to secure the scene and the area where the crime occurred.
✴ Camera and film to photograph scenes and evidence.
✴ Gauges to place in photos to allow for the recording of scale.
✴ Sketchpad and pens for scene sketches.
✴ Disposable and protective clothing (overall suits), face masks and gloves (usually latex gloves).
✴ Torch and other light sources include laser, ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) lighting. These different lights can uncover certain evidence that normal torchlight won’t.
✴ Magnifying glass to help with finding trace evidence.
✴ Tweezers for collecting evidence such as hair and fibres.
✴ Cotton wool buds (cotton swabs) for collecting samples of fluid evidence.
✴ Evidence bags (paper and plastic), evidence tubes (plastic and glass), and marker pen to label evidence. This assists in keeping evidence uncontaminated and allows for safe and easy transport to the lab.
✴ Fingerprint supplies include ink, print cards, lifting tape, dusting powders (a variety of these for different situations) and exposing reagents (such as luminol).
✴ Casting kits for making casts of shoe/footwear prints, animal prints, tyres and tool markings.
Crime Scene Procedure
Crime scene procedure involves a systematic and thorough approach to collecting and analyzing physical evidence at a crime scene. This includes securing the scene, documenting the evidence, collecting physical evidence, and preserving the chain of custody. When investigators attend a crime scene, generally, these procedure is as follows:
✔ Preserving life – whatever the type of crime scene. The first priority is to preserve life and assist any victims if they are injured.
✔ Suspects at the scene – suspects should be detained and removed from the scene. This also allows for searches, statements, and behaviour to be documented.
✔ Controlling the scene – the more people who come in contact with or visit the crime scene, the more difficult it is to keep the site uncontaminated and for investigators to collect evidence.
Reel vs Reality
The portrayal of forensic science in movies and dramas often shows a glamorized version of the real thing. While on TV shows such as CSI, where Forensic Investigators are seen interviewing witnesses, in “real” life, Forensic Investigators have no contact with witnesses, suspects or others. It is up to the police to interview and put the crime pieces together.
Following are some examples which will differentiate between the “reel” version and the reality of forensic science:
Timeframe: In reel, evidence is often processed fast; sometimes, they look at it and answer within minutes, while in reality, forensic analysis can take days or even weeks to complete, depending on the complexity of the case and the type of evidence involved. There are already too many cases in the lab for analysis, so moving through the queue takes some time.
Accuracy: On screen, forensic evidence is often portrayed as infallible, with clear results that prove a suspect’s guilt or innocence. In reality, forensic analysis can be subject to human error, and The interpretation is not always straightforward or conclusive.
Technology: Numerous movies and TV shows feature futuristic or high-tech forensic tools that don’t exist in real life, such as “enhancing” blurry images or creating 3D reconstructions of crime scenes very quickly.
Role of the Forensic Scientist: On screen, forensic scientists are often portrayed as lone geniuses who work independently to solve crimes. Analysis and examination of evidence and the crime scene are not the work of one or two people. It is a team effort where multiple experts analyze evidence and reach conclusions.
Ethical Considerations: Forensic scientists are often portrayed as rule breakers in order to achieve desired results in drama and movies. In reality, forensic scientists must play by the rules and ethical guidelines. They should not do anything that might compromise the integrity of evidence or crime scene or the accuracy of the analysis.
Forensic science is an important and powerful aid in legal proceedings, but it is not magic. Various other facts and evidence are used along with forensic evidence to build a case. This alone is not enough to prove someone guilty or innocent.