Field sciences include crime scene investigation which incorporates not only the investigation of crimes against the person, such as murder and assaults but other crimes such as house burglary and theft from a property or a motor vehicle. Scene investigation involves recording details of the scene using still and video cameras, locating and collecting items for further analysis such as fingerprints and shoeprints, blood stains and stained garments.
The process of scene investigation also includes assessing the crime scene in order to determine the sequence of events during the crime. Crime scene investigators take great care to ensure that crime scenes are secure, that trace material is not inadvertently transferred from one item to another and that all details at a crime scene are recorded. Crime scene investigation is as much about 'what happened' as it is about 'who did it'.
The role of fingerprint examiners includes the detection and enhancement of finger and palm prints from a wide variety of surfaces and the comparison of prints left at a scene with those of a suspect. It also includes the use of the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS) where unidentified fingerprints from a scene can be compared with those on the national database.
Firearm examination is the study of firearms and ammunition and the identification of particular firearms from fired cartridge cases and projectiles. It also involves the determination of the angle and possible distance a gun was fired from to hit a specific target. A national database of images of cartridge cases and projectiles recovered from scenes is available with the aim of providing links between unsolved crimes where firearms have been used.
In many jurisdictions crime scene investigators, fingerprint and firearms examiners are recruited from serving police members, while in others, university graduates are recruited. If these disciplines are areas of interest, specific enquiries should be made to the police service in your State or Territory. Appropriate qualifications include:
- Advanced Diploma of Public Safety (Forensic Investigation)
- Graduate Certificate of Forensic Science
- Bachelor of science (Forensic Science, Chemistry, Biology).