Forensic Science In Criminal Investigation

Introduction

Crime in some form or has existed since the beginning of human race. With advancement in science and technology the concept of crime as well as the methods adopted by criminals in its commission have undergone a phenomenal change. On one hand the criminal has been quick to exploit science for his criminal acts, on the other hand the police investigators no longer able to rely on age-old art of interrogation, development of sources and surveillance to detect crime. The barbaric and torturous methods of detecting crime have also no place in a civilized society.

In this context, Forensic Science has found its existence. In these circumstances, what can the police investigation turn to, except the developing science? Its Development has provided a powerful tool in the law enforcement Agencies and the judiciary.

Contributors

Mathieu Orfila

Mathieu Orfila is generally recognized as the father of modern toxicology. In the early part of the 19th century he established in Paris, method for scientific chemical analysis of poisons which are in use even today.

Francis Galton

Francis Galton a scientist from U.K., undertook the first systematic study of fingerprints. He developed a methodology of classifying the Fingerprints for filing purposes. In 1892, he published a book on “Fingerprints” giving a sound statistical proof of uniqueness of personal identification through fingerprints

Karl Landsteiner

In 1901, Karl Landsteiner discovered that blood could be grouped into different categories, in 1915. Dr. Leone Lattes of Italy devised a relatively simple procedure for determining the blood group of dried bloodstains and immediately adopted this technique for criminal Investigation.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

In the middle of the 19th century natural sciences began to develop rapidly. Justice, which for centuries was in search of objective and impartial evidence, as against, conventional oral testimony of unwilling, hostile and Unobservant, Witnesses, turned to science for assistance. At the same time Sir Arthur Conan Doyle popularized scientific crime detection methods through his fictional character Sherlock Holmes certainly helped to publicist amongst the scientists as well as criminal investigators with the idea that science could aid in the detection and investigation of crime. Most of the pioneering work in the fields of forensic science originated from the continent of Europe, there are many who should be cited for their specific contribution in building the foundation of Forensic Science using method of natural and related sciences.

Key Components of Forensic Investigation:

  • Crime Scene
  • Preservation of the Crime Scene
  • Recording of the Crime Scene

Crime Scene

A scene of occurrence of a crime is the place where a particular crime has been committed or where physical evidence of such crime is found when it is first brought to the notice of the police.

It is a starting point for the investigator, which provides him with the information on the victim and the suspect, and to reconstruct the crime.

The scene of occurrence cannot be limited to one place only. It may extend to one or more places. It may also not be limited to immediate surroundings, but may in a wider area depending upon the nature of the crime committed. In a compact scene of crime, such burglary, the scene may be divided into five parts, namely:

  • Line of approach;
  • Point of entry;
  • Actual scene;
  • Point of exit; and
  • Line of retreat.

The scene of crime may be classified as outdoor or indoor scene. A crime committed on a road or a field is an outdoor crime. Whereas a crime committed in a house, a car, etc., is an indoor crime.

There may be certain types of crime, which have no ‘scene’ at all. The crime of this nature are forgery, embezzlement etc.

The crime of indoor and outdoor nature like theft, house breaking, robbery, dacoit, homicide, rape, traffic accident, etc., have invariably physical evidence at their scenes because of intense physical activities involved in their commission. Physical evidence found at the crime scene can be the key to the solution of a crime.

Preservation of the Crime Scene

Preservation of the crime scene is most important task of the police. The first person arriving at the scene should be able to protect the scene from curious onlookers and family members. He should isolate the scene of crime by cordoning it off. Nothing on the scene should be touched, changed or altered until the investigating officer takes its proper note. Once any material object of dead body is moved from its place, it can never be restored to its original position. That scene, once touched or altered, will make the task of an investigator, in reconstructing the crime and identifying the criminal by physical evidence, very difficult.

Recording of Crime Scene

After taking an immediate action to protect the crime scene Investigator should then proceed to record the evidence. But before doing so, he should seek the help of two independent reliable witnesses, preferably from the neighborhood of the crime scene, as their presence will strengthen the case of prosecution at the time of trial. No evidence should be picked up, or touched or even disturbed till it has been minutely described in notebook, its location shown in a sketch and photography taken.

(a) Recording of Notes:

The investigator has to begin his investigation by recording pertinent Facts and details observed by him at the crime scene. The discovery of every significant item of evidence, when and where it was found, should be accurately described. These factual reports are important to overcome defense claims regarding the theory of the crime and its reconstruction. The notes should cover the following aspects of the crime scene:-

  • The date and time of the FIR
  • The nature of crime.
  • Location of crime scene and a brief description of the area.
  • Brief facts of the crime
  • The names of all officers, witnesses, investigators and special Personnel at the crime scene.
  • The names of personnel, who took the photography, fingerprints, Sketches, etc.
  • The weather and lighting condition at the time of recording the scene
  • A description of the interior and exterior of the crime scene, number of room, door, windows, etc.
  • The location and collection of evidence.
  • The date & time of completion of recording and examination of the crime scene.

(b) Sketching the crime scene:

The investigator must make a rough sketch of the crime scene. The sketches in combination with the photography provide an ideal presentation of the scene. The sketch of the scene of occurrence should be prepared at the site and not at any other place. The distance should be measured exactly and not by approximation. The directions should be indicated with the help of the compass. The sketch should show and locate important objects at the scene. Unimportant objects should be omitted.

(c) Photography of the crime scene:

The scene of occurrence should be photographed as a matter of routine. It is a supplement to the above methods of recording and often the best way to record and illustrate the details of a crime scene and its evidence.

In order to tell the story of scene graphically and coherently, an orderly progression of shots will be required. The subject matter of crime scene photography should move from the general to the specific.

Conclusion

Therefore it can be evaluated that forensic science plays key role in the investigation of Crime. With Modern times the crimes have increased and the nature and technique of the crime has also changed. In that case it is very important that the law enforcement uses forensic science tools, techniques and theories in investigation of crime and legal proceedings at it full pace.

About The Author

Payal Dhanwani is a Forensic Psychologists and currently involved in counseling and psychological management of HIV Patients.

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