As a subject forensic science is something that fascinates most people and what makes it thus is the sheer number of problems that they can face when trying to solve a crime. However, although it’s fascinating a lot of people don’t actually know what forensic science entails.
What is it?
Forensic science is an area of science that is closely linked to law. It is forensic scientists that help to find and put together the condemning evidence left at and near to a crime scene. Forensic science is a subject that is based mainly on biology and chemistry but also draws on knowledge form physics, psychology and social science.
In any criminal investigation when the culprit is not obvious or the cause of the crime is unclear the scenes of crime officers (SOCO’s) have to search the scene inspecting everything to the most minute degree. Once evidence has been gathered from the scene, the victim and – if possible – the suspect, it is then inspected in labs in order to put together a case that can be used in court or to find a DNA profile match. Some senior forensic scientists may sometimes be called upon to give evidence in court, as an impartial witness.
Forensic science can be used to identify anything from a murder weapon to the suspect. Blood spatter can help scientists determine the kind of weapon that has been used on a victim, just as it can lead to a DNA profile of the suspect.
So, you don’t believe that you leave a trace on everything you touch? Well, modern technology – specifically gas Chromatography and Mass Spectroscopy – allows scientists to identify amounts of cocaine as small as one millionth of a gram, so you’ll be surprised to find out that over half of the £5 bank notes in the UK are contaminated with at least one millionth of a gram of cocaine.
Cigarette butts are something that most people know can be used to gather DNA evidence but people are still stupid enough to drop them near to a crime scene. However you probably wouldn’t think that a sweet wrapper could tie you to a crime would you? Well, because they’re sticky they attract fibres, hairs and they can even preserve finger prints, so be careful if you’re planning on playing a few pranks this Halloween.
It’s not only finger prints that are the key to your unique identity, your bare foot print and hand print is also unique to you. Even identical twins don’t share the same foot or hand print – their finger prints are usually similar.
Forensic scientist Joy Cooper is the author of this article and would recommend www.forensicequity.com to solve any legal forensic case for you.