Forensic Analysis – Accreditation Vs Experience

In February 2007 Gene Morrison, a resident of Hyde, Manchester, was jailed for deceiving the UK legal system and posing as a genuine forensic scientist. In 26 years he worked on over 700 cases, all of which will now have to be reassessed as miscarriages of justice may have occurred. At this time there was no governing body to regulate the validity of forensic scientists across the UK, allowing Morrison to buy his fake qualifications from a fraudulent university. When Morrison began this facade, in 1977, he had purchased a BSc in forensic science, a Masters with Excellence in Forensic Investigation and a Doctorate in Criminology, and when asked why he had faked his qualifications in court Morrison responded with “Looked easier”.

All forensic science services used to be conducted by the Forensic Science Service (FSS), however, recently many services can now be provided by different independent companies. Due to this a recommendation from the Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee prepared the role of the Forensic Science Regulator and presented it to the Government. The idea was that the Regulator would be an independent body that would ensure that the same qualities of services were adhered to across the UK in relation to forensic science services to the Criminal Justice Service (CJS).

The Regulator is advised by the Forensic Science Advisory Committee (FSAC), all members of which have a broad amount of skill and experience to call upon when needed. Some of the decisions that the FSAC would make would be to “validate and approve new technologies and applications in the field of forensic science” (Operational Policing, 2009). At present there are 16 members on the committee, all of which are from different departments of forensic science and legal background.

In November 1997 the Council for the Registration of Forensic Practitioners (CRFP) was set up after a recommendation by the Forensic Science Working Group (FSWG), Chairman Lord Jack Lewis. Lord Lewis stated that an independent registration council should be established for forensic practitioners, to allow the public and Courts to gain confidence that the forensic scientist giving evidence was fully qualified and up to the standards needed to be a legitimate expert witness.

Prior to 31st March 2009, the CRFP was known to be the main body in the field of forensic regulation of individuals to ensure that the correct and legitimate legal information was given in forensic science-aided cases, and to guarantee that there were no miscarriages of justice, as with Morrison. It had 2730 individual registrants, some of whom were registered in more than one forensic field, with approximately 30 new forensic practitioners joining each month. Each individual registered had to have their membership revalidated every 4 years, to ensure that their practice was up to date with the quality standards. The CRFP registration covered all aspects of the legal system, from the defense to the prosecution, as well as elements outside the criminal justice system, such as the civil and family courts.

The CRFP did not however cater for all of the forensic practitioners, for example those who did not attend court on a regular basis. To be considered for registration, an applicant needed to have proof of a certain number of court attendances. This meant that some forensic practitioners, such as Forensic Archaeologists, would never be able to become registered, as there were not as many relevant cases that entered the courts compared to say Forensic Toxicologists or DNA experts. Even though the CRFP was considering extending a form of registration to trainee forensic scientists, this still did not cover the disciplines that did not enter into the court system, which may have lead to the assumption that these people were not legitimate in the view of the CJS.

So to review, it is clear that the CRFP’s form of accreditation was essential for expert witnesses but not generic for all forensic practitioners, and seemed to be segregating legitimate practitioners for illegitimate reasons. Non-expert witness forensic scientists only had the option of being members of forensic societies, rather than receiving accreditation for their role. The changeover on 31st March to accreditation being monitored by the Forensic Science Regulator and Chief Executive of the NPIA (National Policing Improvement Agency), will hopefully provide an accreditation that will apply to all forensic practitioners equally.

An Introduction to Computer Forensics

Computer Forensics is the process of investigating electronic devices or computer media for the purpose of discovering and analyzing available, deleted, or “hidden” information that may serve as useful evidence in supporting both claims and defenses of a legal matter as well as it can helpful when data have been accidentally deleted or lost due to hardware failure.

However, this is a very old technique but now it has been changed a lot because of technological advances, modern tools and software’s which makes Computer Forensics much easier for Computer Forensic Experts to find & restore more evidence/data faster and with more accuracy.

Computer forensics has change the way digital evidence is gathered & used as evidence of a crime & it is done using advanced techniques and technologies. A computer forensic expert uses these techniques to discover evidence from an electronic storage device for a possible crime. The data can be from any kind of electronic device like Pen drives, discs, tapes, handhelds, PDAs, memory stick, Emails, logs, hidden or deleted files etc.

Most of us think that deleting a file or history will remove it completely from the hard disk drive. In realty, it only removes the file from the location but the actual file still remains on your computer. It is easier to track what has been done on your computer but difficult to say by whom though it is possible to alter or delete the data completely from your storage device. It depends on computer forensic expert’s skills how well he can find and restore the data without any loss or change.

Computer forensics got widespread attention during the Enron scandal widely believed to be the biggest computer forensics investigation ever. Nowadays Computer Forensics & Electronic discovery is becoming a standard part of litigation of all types, especially large litigations involving corporate matters in which there are large amounts of data.

Computer forensics can be used to uncover a fraud, unauthorized use of a computer, violation of company policies, inadequate record keeping etc… by tracking e-mails, chat-history, files, tapes, sites people browse or any other form of electronic communications.

Data security is one of the biggest issues that the corporate world is facing now by publishing company’s internet/policies & consequences for violations, signing of compliance documents by employees. Businesses can initiate monitoring their own computer systems to avoid legal consequences in future. Making employees aware that monitoring software and Computer forensics personnel are available could prevent workers from wrong doing.

With the use of computers in everyday life and increasing amount of hi-tech crimes, Computer forensics is a growing niche in the litigation support sector. Unlike many jobs in information technology sector, chances are that computer forensics services will not be outsourced to other country because of the confidentiality of the data business which will not allow it to travel just to save a little cash.

Becoming a Forensic Chemist

Getting an education is important for just about anyone and any job that you may apply for. If you are applying for any jobs that have to do with chemistry, most of them will require that you have at least a bachelors degree in that field. Lately it has become easier than ever to get your degree online, making it possible for more and more to get a college education.

One job that may interest you is forensic chemist. Forensic chemistry is the application of the analysis of different chemicals and elements from crime scenes to help solve the crime. You will need to have knowledge of several different disciplines; chemistry, biology, genetics, and how to analyze evidence found at the scene of the crime, victim or even suspect. This is a very important job within the forensic field. Without a forensic chemist, it would be difficult to do dirt analysis, investigations that in involve poison, and many other analyses for crime solving.

Many believe that not only would you need a degree in chemistry but you would also need good public speaking skills. If you are influential in helping solve a crime, and it goes to court, you may be called to testify and defend your scientific findings. People who are very technical and like problem solving would probably enjoy forensic chemistry.

For most places, they require a person to have an undergraduate and graduate degree in forensic science with an emphasis in chemistry, or a degree in chemistry with a forensic minor or double major. Depending on what all you would like to work with (dirt, glass, hair, DNA, or toxicology) you may need to take different courses in biology, geology, physiology or biochemistry.

For those who are interested in forensics and forensic chemistry, you will want to keep up with the changes in technology and develop the skills need for the new technologies. Keeping up to date with technology ensures that the results you are getting are accurate. Using inaccurate results in false imprisonment and false arrest, as well as knocks down your credibility.

To get an edge on the competition, you can look to see when a forensic chemist will be testifying in court and attend so you can learn about that aspect of the job. For the technical side of the job, most labs do not have internships, but may allow volunteers to help in the lab. Make sure that you are capable of problem solving and public speaking.

Getting your degree in chemistry can help you get closer to your goal of becoming a forensic chemist. It doesn’t matter if you have a full time job or are fresh out of high school, getting your degree has become easier than ever. There are so many different programs online that help you get your degree or certification. Many of those programs allow you to learn at your own pace and earn your degree on your time. Look online to find a college degree program that will help you get to your career goal.