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Centre for the Forensic Sciences Blog



Practices of Crime Scene Investigation and Expert Testimony – A Review of the Module from a Current Student

By uctzmsc, on 30 March 2016

Everybody finds CSI cool, but only the people within the field understand the hard work and commitment it takes to be an investigator. This module truly showed me that you need ‘guts’ and ‘brains’ to endure the pressure of a crime investigation; it is not as luxurious as the Hollywood series make it to be, but it definitely requires passion and patience, and is glamorous in other ways.

The module begins with an introduction to CSI and its three important principles: strategy, continuity and integrity. Then, we moved onto the ‘nitty-gritty’ of exhibit documentation – everything needs to be recorded…everything! This was harder than I thought because you truly need an eye for detail, but practice makes perfect; so future students, please print those logs and make your room a mock crime scene to practice documenting items (then ask your housemates to find them)! We also learned how to package items of evidential value including DNA (from blood and saliva), fingermarks and gunshot residue (GSR).

picWith these boxes ticked, we started looking at the decisions made within a crime scene. This is where psychology comes in, and why forensic science is a multidisciplinary field. It is important to understand, and be aware of, the decision-making processes involved in crime scene investigation. To avoid any miscarriages of justice, we need to be aware of the decisions we make at this stage as they can affect the entire process (from crime scene to court).

We were also privileged to attend a whole day at the City of London Police learning about  strategy development and writing down our decisions on the decision logs while examining a mock crime scene. And last, but surely not least, we were so lucky to have a half-day of legal training with Bond Solon, an organization which provides expert witness training.

I have to say that I looked forward to this module at the beginning of each week because I knew that I would be learning something new which could be put in practice—and it was!

So, if you ask me whether I would recommend this module, I say it is definitely worth your time, brains and guts!