Forensic science is a subject of wide fascination. What happens at a crime scene? How does DNA profiling work? How can it help solve crimes that happened 20 years ago? In forensic science, a criminal case can often hinge on a piece of evidence such as a hair, a blood trace, half a footprint, or a tyre mark. Complex scientific findings must be considered carefully and dispassionately, and communicated with clarity, simplicity, and precision. High profile cases such as the Stephen Lawrence enquiry and the Madeleine McCann case have attracted enormous media attention and enhanced general interest in this area in recent years.
In this Very Short Introduction, Jim Fraser introduces the concept of forensic science and explains how it is used in the investigation of crime. He begins at the crime scene itself, explaining the principles and processes of crime scene management, and drawing on his own personal experience of high profile cases including, the murder of Rachel Nickell and the unsolved murder of Jill Dando. Fraser explores how forensic scientists work; from the reconstruction of events to laboratory examinations. He considers the techniques they use, such as fingerprinting, and goes on to highlight the immense impact DNA profiling has had. Providing examples from forensic science cases in the UK, US, and other countries, he considers the techniques and challenges faced around the world. This new edition has been fully updated to take into account developments in areas such as DNA analysis and drug analysis, and the growing field of digital forensics. Topical areas explored include the growing significance of cognitive bias in forensic science, and recent research that raises doubts about the validity of some forensic techniques.
Preface and acknowledgements to second edition
1: What is forensic science
2: Investigating crime
3: Crime scene management and forensic investigation
4: Laboratory examination: search, recovery, and analysis
5: DNA: identity, relationships, and databases
6: Prints and marks: more ways to identify people and things
7: Trace evidence
8: Drugs and toxicology
9: Science and justice - a case study
Jim Fraser has 40 years' experience in forensic science and has worked on many high profile cases, in various roles, including as an expert witness, case reviewer, senior police manager, policy adviser, and researcher. He has also advised many public agencies including police organisations in the UK and abroad, the Home Office, the Scottish Parliament, and the UK Parliament. He is a Research Professor in Forensic Science at the University of Strathclyde, as well as a member of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission and Independent Chair of the United Kingdom Accreditation Service technical advisory committee on forensic science.