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The home of crime scene science. Welcome to another great issue of CSEye

April 2015 inside this issue The home of crime scene science Welcome to another great issue of CSEye In this latest issue read about the experiences of a CSI in Australia. Read about the past experiences
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April 2015 inside this issue The home of crime scene science Welcome to another great issue of CSEye In this latest issue read about the experiences of a CSI in Australia. Read about the past experiences of CSIs and SIOs from the frontline in the UK. Share your experiences with us by submitting your own Thoughts from the frontline... For more information about upcoming CSFS events and joining the Society visit our website at Submissions of articles, technical notes, case studies or research abstracts can be sent to Thoughts from the frontline Page 2 Book review Page 5 Australian Federal Police Crime Scene Investigators: insight into a unique CSI role Page 6 Interview with Iain Peck Fire Investigation Expert Page 14 The use of contract traces in an RTA Page 18 Evaluation & Interpretation of Forensic Evidence Workshop: A review Page 21 Evaluation of Technology in Crime Scene Investigation Page 24 CSEye Is published by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences Page 2 Thoughts from the frontline The experience gained from actual life is one of the nature of wisdom *. *Samuel Smiles ( ) In this series of articles we hope that by sharing the experiences of CSIs and SIOs on the job we can develop a body of knowledge from what has gone before. Here Robert Green OBE shares some thoughts on his own past experiences of working within the crime scene investigation community. Working in the profession Beginning, in no particular order is the need to distance ourselves from the concept of professional and social conformity which I felt (and still feel) is particularly relevant for those working within the law enforcement environment. More simply, those working within crime scene investigation perform their tasks in a world surrounded by others which can lead (in my opinion at least) to two distinctive difficulties. The first of these is perhaps unfreezing the beliefs which, from time to time permeate and sometimes develop from seemingly inconsequential beginnings to become, in no time at all established custom and practice. How many others have experienced these types of occurrence and how many others have tried to get to the bottom of such policies? Secondly, and perhaps more operationally focused, is the concept of groupthink. Whilst accepting the need for appropriate briefing, how many of us have been drawn down a blind alley and perhaps made some questionable decisions based on the views of others and perhaps the perceptions of some who would seek to put forward a consensus which overrides our common sense or is perhaps unpopular with our co-workers? Truthfully I can recount a number of occurrences throughout my career when I d been briefed of a suspected suicide only to find, for example, the victim shot multiple times. The most inexplicable of these was where the firearm had mysteriously disappeared and yet the account of suicide was still being put forward by senior professionals. How might this have affected the outcome of the examination and how might a more junior investigator have coped with this type of coercion? I rather wonder if these types of events are things of the past or whether they continue now. Page 3 Starting the examination whilst thinking about the end There is a prompt which always stood me in good stead when beginning an examination and, I wonder, is this same technique still applied today? In simple terms this is a technique where I would think to myself: 1. How would I defend my actions in the witness box? 2. What is the most inexplicable and peculiar question that I could be asked by Counsel? Could they ask me to be more precise in terms of where particular items had been found? 3. Dealing with these questions (as off the wall as they might initially appear) enables one to reverse engineer the actions at the crime scene and hopefully avoid any bear traps along the way; so begin with the end in mind. By way of illustration I recall one case where it became extremely relevant to disprove that an offender had climbed in through a particular window. Having had the presence of mind (and as I recall a very dusty windowsill) to look at the disturbance of any ornaments I was able to offer an opinion that this had not been the point of entry. Have any of you had similar types of experience you could share as part of these (hopefully) ongoing features? Obtaining a proper factual briefing Moving back to the topic of briefing, I wonder how many times I was asked to conduct a full forensic or to forensicate (sic) this that or the other. In point of fact, the terms still make me bristle with irritation to this day. This type of ambiguous and indistinct briefing has a very clear health warning associated with it and I would urge all those working in the discipline to press for proper information. As an aside, it was always interesting to probe the level of understanding of those asking the question. 1. What do you mean by a full forensic officer - what you actually mean by forensicate (sic)? 2. What investigative hypothesis are you aiming to pursue? 3. If you can be clear on these points then maybe I can help you to determine how forensic science might be able to support (or for that matter refute) your hypothesis. How many of us have had sleepless nights after conducting perhaps an inappropriate level of examination based on the vague information we were provided with at the time? My strong advice would be not to commence any examination unless you have a very clear understanding of what is required. Intuition and inference From an early point in our careers we are conditioned (hopefully at least) to stay well away from assumption and surmise. Many of us will pride ourselves on our intuition which (according to some theories) is the ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason. The question I will pose is whether or not intuition should play a prominent role in crime scene investigation? For example, we know that intuition is formed on both instinctive knowledge and instinctive belief. Dealing with the former, this is the state of being aware of knowing something without having to discover or perceive it (or the ability to do this). On the other hand, instinctive belief is something known or believed instinctively, without actual evidence for it. Of course, we all expect our investigations to be based on fact, whereas in reality we operate somewhere between the two and not devoid of the social context or the politics of the organisations we work within. I can recall the almost certain death of those who mentioned the word assume or surmise in many of the major crime briefings I attended over the years. Page 4 The practicalities We must examine all crime scenes with the care and attention required whilst at the same time balancing the daily workload. Although crime rates have, by and large, reduced, the amount of work to be completed during a shift can be considerable. Hence, some volume crime examinations will, whether we like it or not, have to be conducted more speedily if victims of crime or members of the public are not to be further disadvantaged. Accepting that the CSI effect is often used in the context of academia, nevertheless this phenomenon also extends to the general public, who are perhaps now more appreciative of forensic science and influenced by the mass media. Having said all of this and made a very clear delineation between volume and major crime there is, nevertheless, no room for assumption throughout the forensic process where we must deal with the facts as they present themselves based on the information we have at that point in time. Crime scene investigation is slow, methodical, and systematic and follows an orderly process using established methods. Any deviation from this is most likely to result in errors which I hope we will all avoid. So what of the future I ll draw this article to a close (for this edition) by reflecting upon the crime scene and investigative process from the perspective of one who has experienced this but has also seen how things have developed (hopefully for the better) over the years. For my part, I m ever more confident that engagement with The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences and adherence to policies and quality procedures will take us forward into the future. By way of example, some may form the opinion that the new DNA multiplexes and ever increasing sensitivity of biometrics have little influence on their day-to-day work. Some colleagues may feel that the quality frameworks, now common in the laboratory setting, will just pass them by. For someone now looking at a distance such opinions are rather myopic and do little to take us forward as a profession from the early days of baggers and taggers towards an ever increasingly professional body who collect, identify and compare physical evidence and a full appreciation of investigative theory. I hope this article will generate some further debate in editions to come amongst colleagues in the field. Robert Green is currently Director of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Kent. He has over twenty-five years experience working in the field of forensic science, teaching, scientific support and policing study. He was made an OBE in the Queen s Birthday Honours List in 2008 for services to forensic science. More generally he was responsible for initiating the Home Office work on performance and using advanced computer simulation to ensure the most effective business processes are adopted across the service. He is noted for developing and leading the national programme of cold case review Operation Advance as well as being a national and international speaker on the development of DNA and other biometric databases. Page 5 Crime Scene Investigation Case Studies Step by Step from the Crime Scene to the Courtroom By Jacqueline T. Fish and Jonathon Fish Elsevier Inc ISBN: I found this an entertaining read; I would suggest the book is better suited to the enthusiast and those who are at the beginning of their career rather than the experienced professional as it introduces the reader to the basics of crime and the investigation of it. There are however some good refresher points for those long in the tooth practitioners. The book is also aimed at teachers and course developers with a number of online resources available to support the teaching. The book opens with useful information about the American Criminal Justice System and the basic structure of crime investigation which is useful background to the following chapters. Each of the following chapters is broken down into a case study and introduces the reader to different aspect of crime investigation. The first chapter covers the basic terminology and outlines the basic requirements in any investigation. It allows the reader to read through witness statements and view crime scene photographs as if they were tasked with investigating the crime. The author walks the reader through the arrest, search and interview stages. At the end of the chapter are a number of questions to focus the reader and reinforces learning. These themes follow through the rest of the book; the second case study expands on the documents that the investigator may come across as well as expanding on the knowledge of the law. The third case is about a hit and run incident and demonstrates the importance of sketch diagrams and post mortem reports. The next case is one of Arson and focuses on the evidence that is can be recovered. The final guided case pulls together all the themes introduced and developed and involves a homicide which is made to look like a suicide. The author demonstrates that with meticulous examination and investigation the truth can be established. The final chapter allows the reader to have a go at developing the investigation for them selves. The book allows the reader to use blank documentation within the book or available online to attempt to collate and formulate their own file. I found the read interesting and enjoyable and is a refreshing approach for anyone looking to develop their knowledge in the area. Gemma Lloyd, MCSFS Scenes of Crime Officer Bedfordshire Police Page 6 Australian Federal Police Crime Scene Investigators: insight into a unique CSI role Article written by Alexandra Goodger, a Crime Scene Investigator with the Australian Federal Police The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is Australia s national policing organisation, enforcing Commonwealth criminal law across Australia. The AFP also provides community policing in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), based in Canberra. AFP Crime Scene Investigators support both functions with those in Canberra performing the traditional Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) role, providing assistance to investigations of offences such as murder, burglary and arson; whereas National Crime Scene Investigators perform a more distinct role, supporting investigations of Commonwealth offences such as drug importation into Australia, terrorism, money laundering and human trafficking. National Crime Scene Investigators are located in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. This article provides an insight into the work of a National CSI. EXPERTISE National CSI work is diverse and varied but also includes its own unique specialisation and expertise. This expertise is the forensic examination of seizures being imported in to Australia and suspected of containing prohibited items, such as illicit drugs or firearm parts. These examinations take the form of deconstructions and reconstructions (controlled operations). Figures 1-4 show examples of drug concealments: Figure 2: Packages hidden in the cavity of a shipping container The majority of deconstructions are conducted on seizures containing illicit drugs and as such this article focuses on this type of examination. An illicit drug deconstruction is the dismantling of an item, layer by layer (exterior to interior) to reveal the illicit drug that is suspected of being concealed inside. Concealments range from being very simple to being very intricate and complex. Items being examined can vary from a single suitcase, to a forklift vehicle to a shipping container full of items, concealing millions of dollars worth of illicit drugs. Figure 1: Thin white straws in the weave of a rug concealing illicit drugs Figure 3: Packages of illicit drugs concealed as a food item Page 7 Figure 5: Examples of different types of materials used to package illicit drugs; adhesive tape, plastic, duct tape Figure 4: Packages concealed in the reinforced sides of a suitcase Deconstruction examinations are carried out in a controlled environment in the AFP forensic studios. Although not traditionally a crime scene, the items being examined become a crime scene with CSIs required to draw upon their crime scene skills, such as contemporaneous note taking, sketches, log entry records and crime scene photography to carry out the examination. A thorough analysis is carried out, recording detailed observations such as irregular stitching in the interior of a suitcase or the disturbed surface of a metal item, highlighting signs of entry or the tampering of the item. Once identification of the concealment is made, the next stage is to gain access, sometimes with the use of power tools, depending on the nature and complexity of the item. After the package or packages are recovered from the item, the specific layering and materials of the packages are recorded including identifying marks or logos, such as a logo imprinted in a compressed block of cocaine (Figures 5-7). This information is not only forensically important for the case but is also gathered and analysed by the AFP Forensic Drug Intelligence Team for intelligence purposes and the potential linking of importations. Figure 6: Specific packaging layers Figure 7: Logos imprinted into blocks of cocaine Trace evidence is also recovered at the time of a deconstruction, such as a hair attached to the adhesive surface of a package or a trace DNA swab taken of areas most likely to have been touched. If applicable, items are also dusted for fingerprints. The substances contained within the packages are then examined as bulk items (and kept as they were originally packaged in the item). This is important, as there may be more than one type of illicit drug present. The substances are then preliminary identified via a combination of chemical and instrumental tests. Page 8 These include chemical colour tests, Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) and Gas Chromatography/ Mass Spectroscopy (GCMS). The drugs are weighed and sampled according to approved sampling procedures and guidelines; sometimes including samples for international law enforcement agencies. Analysis samples are then sent to the National Measurement Institute (NMI), a separate analytical laboratory, for confirmatory and quantitative analysis to determine the drug purity and possible cutting agents that may have been used, such as caffeine or levamisole (a common cutting agent used with cocaine). National CSIs encounter illicit drugs in many forms and in large quantities; examples of which include powders, crystals, compressed blocks, tablets, liquids or impregnations in to another substance such as paper or wax. Figure 8 shows an example of a drug in crystalline form and Figure 9 shows an example of an impregnation. Figure 8: Methamphetamine crystals Figure 9: Cocaine impregnated into a jean fabric In some cases small drug pellets are also examined (Figure 10). These pellets have been internally concealed by an individual for importation into Australia. The pellets are recovered by investigators at the airport or a hospital and then forensically examined by CSIs. Figure 10: Pellets containing illicit drugs The other type of examination that is conducted is a reconstruction (controlled operation) which can be initiated when an investigations team intercept a consignment on route to its destination. A deconstruction examination then takes place and a substitution of the illicit drug is made and re-packaged. New identical packaging is preferred in a substitution as to preserve the original packaging as much as possible, for further forensic examinations. The whole consignment is then reconstructed to resemble its original condition (prior to drug removal) and is then delivered to the originally intended destination, with the items being monitored by the investigation teams to determine who it is delivered to and its subsequent distribution. Reconstruction work can be delicate, to ensure, during the deconstruction that no elements of the packages are damaged. It should also be noted that short turnarounds are often required for this sort of examination due to time sensitive operations. This aspect of a national CSI s job is very distinct and requires more than just forensic skills and ability! Please see the Case Example of a reconstruction. Deconstructions and reconstructions are an expertise that form part of an AFP national CSI s day to day job and are what make it a specialised and unique role. Page 9 IN THE FIELD Alongside examinations in the forensic studios National CSIs are also required to work in the field with deconstructions and reconstructions being conducted at specialised examination facilities where items are too large to be transported to the studios. In some instances CSIs also assist with overseas deconstructions and examinations. However, the primary field aspect of the job is the attendance at search warrants or scenes. These search warrants could be at premises relating to a counter terrorism operation or could include the final destination of a reconstructed package/ consignment of a controlled operation. As expected, each search warrant is different and can include a variety of different examinations and evidence collection including drug presumptive tests, fingerprints, trace DNA, footwear marks
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