To put forensic science in simply layman’s terms: it is the application of scientific procedures in conjunction with the law. Forensic science is the umbrella term for a collection of scientific procedures that can be employed when it comes to providing evidence that a crime has been committed and also provides ways and means of proving how a crime has been committed.
In its simplest form it can be a means by which fingerprints, fibres, DNA and bodily fluids can be collected and stored – without contamination – so that they can be later used as evidence in a police investigation into a specific crime – or indeed series of crimes.
Types of Forensic Science
Forensic science breaks down into the categories of:
- Forensic Science
- Forensic Medicine
- Forensic Psychology
- Forensic Dentistry
- Forensic Graphology
- Forensic Accounting
Each of these categories will at some time or other be employed in a criminal investigation and can also be used in commercial matters such as insurance investigations, allegations of fraud and/or corruption, and proving the paternity of an individual in an ongoing investigation relating to child welfare.
Forensic Science and Crime
All of these categories have their own particular specialities and it is important to recognise that the role of Forensic Science in the area of criminal prosecution has proved vital in bringing many criminals to justice who might have otherwise slipped through the net.
It is important to remember also that Forensic Science is not simply investigating the events surrounding and leading up to death. It is also used to prove that serious sexual and grievous bodily assaults have taken place and it has proved fundamental in how the legal system conducts cases once they have been brought before a court of law.
Forensic Science Developments
In the last two decades forensic science has seen many important discoveries made and has had many different procedures added to its remit in order to aid in the detection of criminals and also in proving the innocence of people suspected of crimes they did not commit.
Indeed without forensic science it is fair to say that many of the crimes that are committed today in our world would go unsolved and most definitely unpunished if it were not for these advances.
Forensic science has now become a scientific study in its own right and now includes some of the world’s most important discoveries as part of its remit. These include:
- DNA coding
- Toxicology – the study of drugs and their effects on the human body
- Serology – the study of bodily fluids
- Ballistics – the study of firearms
In addition to these studies forensic science also looks at time of death, cause of death and how a body is disposed of. It also takes into account the fact that bodies many not necessarily have died where they are located and techniques within the field can provide definitive proof of this through soil analysis, examination and categorising of various pollens, and many other factors such as temperature and weather conditions.
It is fair to say that forensic science has become one of the most important areas of scientific study of the 20th and 21st century and will remain so for a long time to come.