Posted at 08.10.2018
'Forensic science is science used for the purpose of the law' (White 2010), they have three main phases, that happen to be, the recovery of evidence from the crime scene, forensic study of the evidence at the laboratory and the presentation of evidence test outcomes in court (Jackson 2008). A crime scene is any location or locations that have evidence that will help with a criminal investigation. Therefore, a crime scene may take many forms, it can be indoors or outdoors, i. e. a road accident or a burglary and it can contain just a finger mark or it can include acres of land. Subsequently, many types of evidence are available at a crime scene, from the tiniest fibres which are invisible to the naked eye, to something as apparent as a broken window. It is up to the scene of crime officers (SOCOs) to gather relevant physical evidence to send to the forensic laboratory for even more examination (Jackson 2008). Forensic laboratories are either provided within the authorities service (known as the forensic science service department (FSS)) or by independent forensic services which offer different areas of expertise depending on specialist equipment and expert scientists in any given field (Jackson 2008). Hence,
forensic laboratories cover a wide area of expertise such as: Pathology, which would for example be involved in case's of rape or unnatural death; firearms experts, who among other activities would be engaged in examining bullets bought at a crime scene; and questioned documents experts, who would be involve in cases of fraud (Eckert 1996). The forensic scientist is responsible for providing a written report of the data that can found in court, it must be written so that those that are not really acquainted with scientific conditions can still understand the conclusion of the results. This essay aims to explore the importance of the task carried out at the crime scene in comparison with the work carried out by the forensic laboratory, to be able to establish whether the crime scene is the main section of forensic science.
The crime scene is important because, if handled carefully, it can offer the physical evidence which is required to create a criminal case against a suspect. The data recovered from a crime scene can be utilized in a variety of ways, including: to determine if the crime has in fact occurred, as this is not always obvious initially, for instance, in the case of a fire scene it would need to be established if the fire was started either accidentally or deliberately; identification, evidence can help to identify the victim, offender and another persons which may be mixed up in crime; To corroborate or refute statements and to gather intelligence in order to make associations between different crime scenes and also to find any links between your folks involved (White 2010). To be able to produce such crucial evidence a crime scene is generally sectioned off into two categories with regards to the seriousness of the crime committed; less serious crimes such as burglary would be classified as a volume crime and much more serious crimes such as murder would be classified as a serious crime, and so crime scenes which involve volume crimes are typically investigated by the lone scene examiner and serious crimes typically involve a team of scene examiners (Jackson 2008). Only reliable and impartial evidence can be used in court, which means evidence samples recovered from a crime scene need to be properly handled, preserved, packaged and transferred throughout the whole procedure for investigation. This careful process is recognized as the chain of continuity and must be demonstrated for the forensic laboratory to gain valid evidence which is often used in juridical proceedings (White 2010).
Therefore, in order to recuperate valid and useable evidence the most important rule of your crime scene - after preserving life - is to preserve the scene of evidence to be able to prevent contamination (White 210). The crime scene must be defined, secured and cordoned off, allowing as few people as you possibly can entry and a scene log should be used to record those that do enter. In the perimeter of the crime scene a forensically cleared 'common approach path' (CAP) is made by using either scene tape or stepping plates or a combo of both. The CAP enables access to the investigators whilst stopping contamination of the data by keeping everyone to a designated route which avoids disturbing that of the offender whenever you can. Also, anyone who enters the crime scene must wear protective clothing, including over-shoes, gloves (preferably two pairs as the first can be contaminated just by putting them on), scene suits, head covers and masks, which must always be changed into before entering or leaving a crime scene. That is to prevent foreign matter being brought into the crime scene and to prevent evidence from being transferred elsewhere; both which can compromise the investigation (white 2010). The crime scene is the 'first link in the chain of investigation' and when any evidence is compromised then so is the whole investigation. Therefore, In order for evidence to be utilized in court it must be carefully and systematically handled throughout the investigative process; the continuity of evidence must be sustained from when it is recovered at the crime scene, throughout its transference to the forensic laboratory and then into court, where in fact the evidence will be scrutinised by the defence (Eckert 1996).
The forensic laboratory is an important part of the criminal investigation since it examines the data that is found at the crime scene and on victims and suspects, and discover a link you can use as expert evidence in court. Forensic examination aims to validate the data bought at the crime scene with scientific proof that can withstand harsh cross-examining in court. Forensic analysis can support a criminal investigation in lots of ways, among others, it can prove a crime has been committed, by identifying drugs or alcohol in a person's blood stream, it provides investigative leads, for example, by identifying a blood type or shoe size, and it can benefit identify a suspect via DNA in ejaculate (Jackson 2008). Laboratories offer different fields of expertise depending on the many types of evidence they examine (Eckert 1996). For example, the toxicology and drug identification laboratory would be used to test drugs and poisons and the forensic serology laboratory would be utilized for the analysis of body fluids, such as blood and semen (white 2010). Therefore, the laboratory plays an important role in the investigative process, but unless due care and continuity has taken location to preserve the data by any means stages of the investigation, i. e. preservation, documentation, storage and transportation, then the work completed at the laboratory is discredited. .
Therefore all recovered evidence must be carefully labelled and stored appropriately, different sample types must be stored in several ways, for example, blood stains need to be air dried before packaging in order to avoid bacterial activity which can hinder the analysis (Eckert 1996). Continuity forms, notes and labels must be properly filled out which is important that the relationship between your physical evidence and the crime scene is maintained, through photographs, diagrams and written notes. Also, good communication between your SOCOs and the laboratory examiners is important in creating a good understanding of the crime (Jackson2008). The crime scene is the 'first link in the chain' and the entire forensic investigation process can be rendered useless if the correct procedures aren't followed. Therefore, continuity throughout the whole process of investigation is paramount in order to keep the validity of the evidence so that it can be used in juridical proceedings.
The crime scene can be an important portion of forensic science because it is the starting place of the complete criminal investigation, all consequent areas follow on from it and if mistakes are created here then you will see repercussions throughout the complete process. The crime scene is the most crucial area that evidence samples are gathered because without this evidence the forensic laboratory would have nothing to work with. Conversely, with no scientific skills of the laboratory much of the recovered evidence would be fruitless; some evidence can be analysed without a laboratory but it takes more time and is also less efficient.
In conclusion, both crime scene and the forensic laboratory are essential areas of forensic science and when they work together effectively they could be the deciding element in a criminal court case. However, even without the use of the forensic laboratory the crime scene will be a useful way to obtain evidence however in contrast the forensic laboratory would be rendered useless without the evidence samples that are supplied from the crime scene. Consequently, the crime scene is the most crucial region of forensic science.