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Centre for the Forensic Sciences Blog



CFS Seminar Series – Brian Rankin

By uctzsmi, on 23 January 2014

CFS Seminar lead by Brian Rankin (Head of the Centre for Forensic Investigation, Teesside University)
January 22, 2014

In addition to most of the other seminars that focus on specific forensic studies, this seminar was aimed at highlighting the market issues around forensic science. If you were not aware of the importance of this as a forensic science student or researcher, you would have been afterwards. Brian Rankin pointed out the main challenges, which were then discussed among the group. This forced you to think about the implications of these issues for the future of forensic science and yourself herein. I found it very enlightening to discuss these issues with someone that has experience in both the academic and policing environment, and who is very passionate and enthusiastic about his, and our, field.

For example, I think many forensic science students do not realise the importance of effective case management to save time and costs in the CJS, which is said to be improved by using streamlined forensic reporting. What also I found noteworthy and worrying are the different requirements for the laboratories in the police forces and the independent forensic companies to be accredited. To me, this also implies that the shutdown of the Forensic Science Service (FSS) resulted in many problems regarding quality assurance and maintaining the code of practice. Luckily, with the help of the Forensic Science Regulator, such issues are currently being addressed. Also, with the shutdown of the FSS, universities in the UK now bear the responsibility of research and development, which I believe should be done with close communication and participation of the government, police and commercial companies to guide forensic research to address current issues.

Examples were given, such as the investigative process of the murder on Jill Dando and the arrest of Shirly McKie which put some of the current issues into perspective. These are just two of many more examples that show the significant impact of the improper handling of forensic evidence. This seminar once again highlighted the importance of multidisciplinary and collaborative research in the forensic domain which was both eye-opening and encouraging. Lastly, even though job opportunities in this field are limited, it was highlighted that forensic science students are equipped with many skills that can be applied in a lot of other problem-solving environments.

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