Forensics and Private Investigation
Shakespeare once wrote ‘A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool’ and I definitely consider myself a fool! One of the things I love most about my job is that I am constantly learning new things. Most of the time this comes in the form of experience; every case, even the seemingly mundane, teaches me something new. These things help me improve my practice, and my results get better and better.
Other times I seek out new knowledge in the form of personal research and studying. This Autumn, I am taking on a new challenge – a course in Forensics and Profiling! This course will give me a new qualification under my belt and a few more tricks up my sleeve, and I can’t wait to get stuck in!
Forensics has been a keen interest of mine for a few years now and is partly what inspired me to become a Private Investigator. When you think of women in forensic science, you would be forgiven for imagining characters like Dana Scully working in autopsy, or goth girl Abby Sciuto of NCIS fame. While I appreciate these characters for portraying ladies in the lab (and making science look cool) what they show on screen is hop, skip and massive leap from the kind of work I will be doing day to day. The course syllabus alone paints a picture.
First I will be learning the history of Forensic Science, all the way back from 3rd century BC. Because to know where we are going, we first need to look at where we have been. Would you believe that the physician who conducted Julius Caesar’s’ autopsy was able to conclude that his second stab wound was in fact the fatal one? (Schafer, Elizabeth D. (2008). “Ancient science and forensics”). Today’s fancy tech aside, what we can discover from forensics has been known and valued for thousands of years.
Continuing to look at the theory of criminalistics, I will be taking a close look at Italian scientist, Cesare Lombroso, and his work in identifying different types of criminals. This should prove particularly interesting, as his research into distinguishing characteristics of criminals, including common facial features, has been studied and debated for over 100 years.
Bringing everything up to date, I will then of course be looking at practical methods of forensic investigation, including collecting DNA evidence, identifying poisons, analysing fingerprints and other physical evidence. I will also learn when and how to contest such evidence in a court case. I am really excited about this practical side of the course, as it will provide me some new methods of investigation which I can then apply to my work with clients!
Forensic Science can be used not only to identify a suspect and evidence their guilt, it can also be used exonerate the innocent. Again, this can be seen all the way back to ancient times, when Roman attorney Quintilian defended his client against a murder charge by demonstrating that the bloody handprint at the crime scene did not match the defendant’s! (Schafer, Elizabeth D. (2008). “Ancient science and forensics”). And now, groups like the London Innocence Project and APPEAL regularly use forensic methods to overturn wrongful convictions, by utilising new tech and a greater understanding which simply was not around when the cases were originally tried.
I am eager to share more on this subject and the techniques that I learn, so watch this space, and wish me luck!