what is forensic science?

Blood drop (Richard Jones 2015)


Forensic science is the application of scientific principles to questions of forensic (or legal) importance. Any branch of science may be of assistance in answering those questions, but of particular importance are:


Read an 'overview' article on forensic science ('How science solves crimes') in Time magazine (21/10/2002) here ..


Read the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report 'Forensic science on trial' paper  here  ...


Visit the BBC website here for an article on crime scene investigation, including an interactive 360 degree 'scene' to be explored!


Source: Wikimedia

Source: Wikimedia

In any legitimate justice system, ... truth must play a paramount and integral role... The very survival of the rule of law depends not only on a justice system that administers the law fairly, but a system that is just by being well-grounded in ... truth ...[M]ore research is needed in the techniques and science already in use. With the importance of forensic science to truth and justice, the science employed and relied upon by judges and juries must be valid. It does not matter how well forensic scientists abide by testing protocols, or how reliable the techniques are, if the underlying science does not actually reveal what the expert says it does. Method validation studies and new research must be on-going even in the area of traditional forensic disciplines.

Melson KE. The journey to justice. Journal of Forensic Sciences 2003; 48:705

how is a crime scene protected and initially examined? (FutureLearn - Dundee University)


analysing forensic evidence (The Wellcome Collection)


the CSI-effect: infographic

See a full-scale version of this infographic at forensic science.net

Sir Alec Jeffreys on DNA 'fingerprinting'




Read about interviews with Alec Jeffreys here ...

More resources on DNA 'fingerprinting'


Historical illustration of fingerprint dusting in a forensic science laborratory (pre-DNA era)

Source: Science Against Crime, Kind S

forensic science and miscarriages of justice



Forensics under fire videos


forensic science in action - Stephen Lawrence murder


18-year-old teenager, Stephen Lawrence, was murdered by a gang of racist youths in Well Hall Road, Eltham, South London on 22nd April 1993. Two members of that gang, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were convcted of his murder on 3rd January 2012.


Stephen had been stabbed to a depth of about five inches on both sides of the front of his body to the chest and arm. Both stab wounds severed axillary arteries, and blood must literally have been pumping out of and into his body as he ran up the road to join his friend. In the words of Dr Shepherd, the pathologist, "It is surprising that he managed to get 130 yards with all the injuries he had, but also the fact that the deep penetrating wound of the right side caused the upper lobe to partially collapse his lung. It is therefore a testimony to Stephen's physical fitness that he was able to run the distance he did before collapsing".

The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry 1999 Chapter 1 para 1.7


Crucial fibre and bloodstain evidence was adduced in the trial of Dobson and Norris - see the full-sized version of the above graphic, and read about this evidence at the Channel 4 News site here ...


Read more about this case:

DNA via the Khan Academy



forensics under fire


crime scene investigation: graphic novel-style

trace evidence: graphic novel-style

Mock death scene

Photo Credit: pennstatenews via Compfight cc

Demise of the Forensic Science Service


The House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee (27th April 2011) which examined the demise of the Forensic Science Service.

Read the transcript here ...

And watch the evidence of Jeremy Brown MP to the Committee at a 'follow-up' session, in which he appears to struggle to describe what the Government strategy is now for the future provision and development of forensic science in England and Wales, save for the devolvement of forensic science to private providers.




crime scene investigation: lego-style




Strengthening forensic science in the United States: A path forward (2009)

Buy it here

At Google Books here


Forensic investigations and miscarriages of justice: the rhetoric meets the reality. Snagha B, Roach K, Moles R. Irwin Law 2010

Buy it here ...


  • online books exploring miscarriages of justice in Australia, with a focus on forensic science evidence, at Networked Knowledge

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