Understanding the intricacies of forensics

March 6, 2024



Philip Ingram MBE provides an understanding of the intricacies of forensics in an exclusive interview with SJUK.

Forensic categories

Forensics can be classified into several categories, each specialising in a specific area of investigation. The most prominent branches include: 

Criminalistics: Criminalistics focuses on the analysis of physical evidence found at crime scenes. This includes fingerprints, DNA, ballistics and trace evidence such as hair, fibres and bloodstains.

Through meticulous examination and scientific techniques, criminalists can link suspects to crimes and provide valuable evidence in court. 

Digital forensics: This branch deals with the investigation and analysis of electronic devices, such as computers, smartphones, and tablets, to uncover digital evidence.

It involves recovering deleted files, analysing internet browsing history and tracing digital footprints left by cybercriminals. 

Forensic anthropology: Thisfocuses on the study of human remains to determine the cause of death, identify the deceased, or provide crucial information in missing persons cases.

By examining skeletal remains, forensic anthropologists can unravel the circumstances surrounding a person’s death and assist in criminal investigations. 

Forensics plays a pivotal role in solving crimes by providing scientific evidence that can link suspects to the scene of the crime.

It helps to establish the facts surrounding a case and supports the work of law enforcement agencies and the judicial system.

Forensic experts work closely with investigators to gather, analyse, and interpret evidence, ensuring that it is admissible in court.

The wider the range of techniques used the greater potential for a more accurate forensic picture to be established.  

Forensic techniques and tools 

Forensic investigations rely on a wide range of techniques and tools to analyse evidence and reconstruct crime scenes. Some of the key techniques used in forensics include: 

Fingerprint analysis: This involves comparing and matching fingerprints found at a crime scene with those in a database –  no two individuals have the same fingerprints, making it a valuable method for identifying suspects. 

DNA profiling: DNA profiling is a technique that analyses an individual’s unique genetic makeup to establish their identity or link them to a crime.

Ballistics analysis: Ballistics analysis involves the examination of firearms and ammunition to determine their role in a crime.

By analysing bullet trajectories, cartridge cases, and firearm markings, forensic experts can link a particular weapon to a crime scene or establish a connection between different crimes. 

In today’s digital age, computer forensics has become an essential branch of forensics.

It deals with the investigation and analysis of digital devices to uncover evidence related to cybercrime or other criminal activities.

Computer forensics experts employ specialised tools and techniques to recover deleted files, analyse internet browsing history, and trace digital footprints left by perpetrators. 

Digital forensics goes beyond computer forensics and encompasses the examination of any digital device or system that stores electronic data.

This includes smartphones, tablets, GPS devices, and even smart home appliances.

Digital forensics experts use specialised tools and techniques to extract, analyse, and interpret digital evidence, such as emails, text messages, and social media interactions. 

Digital forensics plays a vital role in criminal investigations, as digital devices often contain a wealth of information that can provide crucial leads or establish connections between suspects and victims.

It has become an indispensable tool in solving a wide range of crimes, including cybercrimes, fraud, and even terrorism. 

Biometrics forensics 

Biometrics forensics utilises technology to analyse and identify individuals based on their unique physical or behavioral characteristics.

It involves the use of fingerprints, facial recognition, voice analysis, and even gait recognition to establish the identity of suspects or victims. 

Biometrics forensics has revolutionised the field of identification and plays a crucial role in solving crimes.

By comparing biometric data collected at crime scenes with databases of known individuals, investigators can quickly narrow down the list of potential suspects and establish their involvement in criminal activities.   

Many of these techniques are being enhanced using AI, but like all AI analysis ensuring the base data is properly understood is critical to the accuracy of any system.

Forensics has seen significant advancements with the integration of AI and generative AI technology.

AI algorithms have been developed to analyse vast amounts of data and identify patterns that may not be easily detectable by humans.

This has greatly enhanced the efficiency and accuracy of forensic investigations.  

Additionally, generative AI has revolutionised the field by creating realistic simulations of crime scenes or facial reconstructions based on limited evidence.

These simulations aid investigators in visualising potential scenarios and can provide critical leads in solving complex cases.

The combination of AI and generative AI has proven to be a powerful tool in forensic analysis, enabling investigators to uncover hidden insights and bring justice to victims. 

Forensics remains a fascinating and growing essential area to support the investigative process and deliver insights and clues that superficial observations could miss.

As science improves, so does forensics which is why we hear of many cold cases being solved through use of new forensic techniques.

It is an area that will continue to improve as science develops. 

This article was originally published in the March Edition of Security Journal United Kingdom. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

Read Next