Role of the Crime Scene Examiner
As Pepper (2010) notes, the role of the crime scene investigator is incorrectly portrayed in the media. He explains how the general image portrayed in the media is of detectives carrying out crime scene investigations in large groups, with little protective clothing. In reality CSIs, or crime scene examiners, often work on their own and know the great importance of protective clothing. A number of roles required by a CSI have been identified and include; photography or videos of the scene, victims and property, search and recovery of physical evidence, fingerprints and palm prints, packaging and storage of evidence to prevent contamination as well as a number of others.
Pepper (2010) explains that within each of the 43 police forces in England and Wales there is a Scientific Support Manager who heads the individual scientific support department. He goes on to describe how they are in charge of personnel, finance and the organisation of police photography, scenes of crime and fingerprint departments, and sometimes may also be responsible for other specialist departments.
Locard’s Principle of Exchange
Locard’s Principle of Exchange is crucial in the understanding of crime scene examination. Dr Edmond Locard was a pioneer in forensic science and formulated the basic principle “every contact leaves a trace” (Rankin, 2005) meaning the perpetrator of a crime will both leave traces of themselves at a crime scene as well as taking away traces of the crime scene (Jackson & Jackson, 2011, p.15). All forensic science starts at the crime scene due to this knowledge as it is important to find any trace of a perpetrator at the scene. One case example of the importance of Locard’s principle is the murder of Sarah Payne. The conviction of Roy Whiting was largely based on fibres found linking the girl to Whiting’s van. Fibres found on Payne’s shoe matched fibres from materials in Whiting’s van were crucial to the case and linked the girl to Whiting leading to a conviction ('Major forensic find' in Sarah case, 2001).
An awareness of contamination and how to prevent it is also crucial in crime scene investigation. Houck & Siegel (2006, p.57) describe contamination as an “undesired transfer of information between evidence”. It is crucial when collecting evidence that it is handelled and packaged correctly throughout the whole process. There have been a number of cases where incorrect collection and handelling of evidence has affected the case. Evidence was not collected or stored properly during the case of the Omagh Bombing leading to Sean Hoey being cleared of 58 counts of murder (McCaffrey, 2011).
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Legal Governance of Crime Scene Examination
Giving Evidence in Court
Crime scene examiners may often be required to present evidence in court; their work is orientated to producing information that can be used as evidence in a criminal trial (White , 2010). They are considered professional...