Effective use of forensic science in volume crime investigations: identifying recurring themes in the literature

Anika Ludwig, Jim Fraser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Newscientific, technological and legal developments, particularly the introduction of national databases for DNA and fingerprints, have led to increased use of forensic science in the investigation of crime. There is an assumption, and in someinstances specific assertions, that such developments bring improvements either in broad criminal
justice terms or more narrowly in terms of economic or practical efficiencies. The underlying presumption is that the new technological opportunities will be understood and effectively implemented. This research investigates whether such increases in activity have also been accompanied by improvements in the effective use of
forensic science. A systematic review of thirty-six reports published (predominantly in England and Wales) since the 1980s, which have considered the use of forensic science in the investigation of volume crimes, was carried out. These reports have identified a number of recurrent themes that influenced how effectively forensic sciencewas used in investigations. The themes identified included forensic knowledge and training of investigators, communication and information exchange between specialists and investigators, timeliness of forensic results, interagency relationships and deployment of crime scene examiner resources. The research findings suggest that these factors continue to hinder the effective use of forensic science despite technological advances
and this paper considers their potential causes
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81–88
Number of pages8
JournalScience and Justice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2014


  • knowledge
  • investigation
  • communication
  • resources
  • training
  • effectiveness

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