Care to train as a crime scene investigator?

A crime scene investigator anybody?

The term Forensic Science evokes vivid images of a crime scene, and the clinical precision with which an attempt is made to unravel the truth. Dr BM Mohan, Director, State Forensic Laboratory, Karnataka says, “The implementation of cutting edge technologies in crime investigations is the most fulfilling aspect of being in this field.”

What it’s all about
Forensic Science is the application of a broad spectrum of sciences to answer questions to a legal system. It is a lab-based profession.
It attempts to decipher how a crime has been committed; how law enforcement agencies detect such criminal activities and bring the perpetrators to justice. The field revolves around scientific, legal and criminal justice.

Forensic scientists use principles from chemistry, biology, physics, geology, medicine and psychology. They analyse all physical evidence found on a victim at the scene of crime and compare it with evidence found on a suspect, and provide expert testimony in court. The evidence could be anything from traces of blood, saliva, other body fluids, hair, fingerprints, footwear impressions, explosives, specimens of tissue for poisons, blood to urine.

Apart from the strong grounding in science, there are other skills which can come handy while solving cases. Dr Anil Aggrawal, professor of Forensic Medicine at Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, says, “This field requires lateral or the out-of-the-box thinking to unravel the truth, and this is the one of the fascinating aspects while working.”

The other skill which is important is an eye for detail along with the ability to keep the big picture always in mind.

Key sub-fields
*Criminalistics which deals with investigations using biological evidence, impression    evidence (fingerprints or footwear impressions) and ballistics (firearm examination). A technique called DNA Profiling is also used.
*Forensic Chemistry which deals with chemical analyses to reconstruct the sequence of events at the crime spot.

*Forensic Entomology which examines the insects around the human remains to determine the time and location of death.
*Forensic Pathology which deals with the application of principles of medicine and pathology to determine the cause of death.
*Forensic Psychology which is about understanding the psychological circumstances behind a criminal’s behaviour.

Emerging techniques
*Polygraphy or lie detector test: This mind-body interaction is detected through the sensors of a polygraph machine.
*Narco Analysis: This is about administering a drug to suppress his reasoning power to make him speak the truth.  
Courses on offer
You would need to do a Master’s degree in Forensic Science after graduating in any branch of science. There are many universities in India offering Forensic Science courses. Some of them are:
*Osmania University Hyderabad
*Gujarat University, Gujarat
*University of Madras, Chennai
*University of Pune which offers Diploma in Criminology.
*Karnataka University, Dha-rwad
*National Institute of Criminology & Forensic Sciences (NICFS), New Delhi which offers Master’s in Forensic Science and Criminology.
Forensic scientists could work in government forensic laboratories (central and state), law enforcement agencies or detective agencies.

New frontiers
Forensic Science definitely has immense scope for research. G Devi, Director of IFS India, a New Delhi-based Forensics firm, says: “There is need for research in areas like Forensic Linguistics and Forensic Geology.”
Dr BM Mohan from the State Forensic Science Laboratory adds, “Signal analysis, image analysis, biology and neuroscience applications to forensics are the challenges ahead, and they are the new frontiers for research.”
Dr MV Garad, Director, Forensic Science Laboratory, Maharashtra, says: “Cyber Forensics is a challenging field because finding data, collecting it, preserving it and presenting it in a manner acceptable in a court of law is tough.”
He further adds, “Speaker identification is also challenging as it involves the use of auditory analysis and computerised techniques to recognize, identify, or discriminate human voices.”

Forensic science is an exciting career option for those who want to fight injustice using scientific techniques and analytical thinking skills.

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