What is Forensic Science?
Forensic science is the application of science to assist in the judicial process. It consists of a range of different disciplines which often require different underpinning science knowledge. These science disciplines can include fields such as medicine, pathology, odontology, biology, chemistry and engineering.
While forensic science is often seen as focusing exclusively on law enforcement, forensic science can be applied in many areas of the community and industry where the skills of a scientist need to be applied to a problem and the outcome may be presented in a court of law. For instance a forensic chemist may need to trace a food contamination which may result in presenting their results in court.
Forensic Science and TV Crime Shows - Fiction vs Reality
Unlike fictional television characters, forensic scientists are most often confined to a particular discipline and often to a specialty within that discipline. Recent years have seen more work being undertaken at the scene and multi-disciplinary teams being involved in a triage process prior to the analysis of specific items of interest. Although a scientist may contribute the major piece of evidence in a particular case, generally their evidence is contributory part of the total evidence presented to the court from other witnesses, including police investigators.
The focus of forensic science should not be the conviction of offenders. Scientific examinations help to eliminate suspects and establish innocence. Forensic science continues to evolve and through the development of forensic science intelligence, it is now applicable to crime disruption, prevention and detection. Forensic science also plays a pivotal role in the identification of victims in mass disasters.
Click on the following links to learn more about forensic science disciplines and the forensic science landscape in Australia and New Zealand.