Materials Forensic Anthropologists and the Police Treat as Evidence Within Their Investigative Work

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Forensic science is science used for the purpose of the law, and thus any branch of science used in the resolution of legal disputes falls under the mantle of forensic science (Genge, 2003). This broad definition covers criminal prosecutions in the widest sense, including consumer and environmental protection and health and safety at work, as well as civil proceedings such as breach of contract and negligence. A police officer investigating an incident will seek clarification of three issues: whether a crime has been committed; who the responsible parties are; and whether there is enough evidence to charge the responsible person and proceed to a successful prosecution (Fisher, 1992; Osterburg and Ward, 2000). This clarification is seldom the isolated responsibility of one officer, and any consequential trial will require the involvement of the specialist police officers and civilian staff. Forensic science, and the evidence it can interpret, can be expected to make a contribution to the clarification of all three issues. Forensic evidence is present everywhere, but usually it is of little or no importance. However, at the scene of a crime the presence of forensic evidence can lead law enforcement to the offender, and often plays a crucial role in the prosecution and defence of the defendant. The types of materials considered to be of evidential value to the police and the forensic services are copious: this essay will address the predominant forms of material evidence of interest to forensic anthropologists and police officers, however, it is by no means exhaustive. Importance of evidence Forensic evidence can be essential for criminal investigations, and the successful resolution and prosecution with regard to a variety of crimes. Its usefulness derives from a concept known as Locard’s Principle of Two-way Transfer. To Edmund Locard is attributed an
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