Browsing Forensic Science Research Group by Title
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The Forensic Institute Research Network.The burgeoning activity in forensic science in universities continues to attract criticism. A positive aspect is the potential to inject a much-needed boost to research in all forensic practices. Only recently has fingerprinting, for example, been exposed to rigorous scientific examination and, to a great extent, been found wanting as regards its science – probability apparently has no place in fingermark examination. In response to the opportunity The Forensic Institute brought together representatives from more than 40 UK universities to discuss how this new resource, academics and students, could be used to further research in the forensic sciences. It was envisaged that many casework-related problems, such as environmental frequencies of trace evidence, could be best accomplished by a lot of small student projects coordinated on a national and perhaps international level by a steering group. This steering group in turn would be part of an integrated research strategy developed in conjunction with practitioners. A virtuous cycle of practice, research, development, and practice would be the outcome. And so, in 2004, The Forensic Institute Research Network (FIRN) was born.
Integration of multimedia technology into the curriculum of forensic science courses using crime scene investigations.Virtual reality technology is a powerful tool for the development of experimental learning in practical situations. Creation of software packages with some element of virtual learning allows educators to broaden the available experience of students beyond the scope that a standard curriculum provides. This teaching methodology is widely used in the delivery of medical education with many surgical techniques being practised via virtual reality technologies (see Engum et al., 2003). Use has been made of this technology for a wide range of teaching applications such as virtual field trials for an environmental science course (Ramasundaram et al., 2005), and community nursing visiting education scenarios (Nelson et al., 2005) for example. Nelson et al. (2005) imaged three-dimensional representations of patient living accommodation incorporating views of patient medication in order to deliver care modules via a problem-based learning approach. The use of virtual reality in the teaching of crime scene science was pioneered by the National Institute of Forensic Science in Australia as part of their Science Proficiency Advisory Committee testing programme. A number of scenarios were created using CDROM interfacing, allowing as near as possible normal procedures to be adopted. This package included proficiency testing integrated into the package and serves as a paradigm for the creation of virtual reality crime scene scenarios (Horswell, 2000). The package is commercially available on CD-ROM as part of the series ‘After the Fact’ (http://www.nfis.com.au). The CD-ROM package is geared to proficiency training of serving scenes of crime officers and thus contains details that may not be needed in the education of other parties with a need for forensic awareness. These include undergraduate students studying towards forensic science degree programmes in the UK as well as serving Police Officers. These groups may need virtual reality crime scene material geared to their specific knowledge requirements. In addition, Prof J Fraser, President of the Forensic Science Society and a former police Scientific Support Manager, speaking to the United Kingdom, House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee in its report ‘Forensic Science on Trial’ (2005) states: ‘The documented evidence in relation to police knowledge of forensic science, in terms of making the best use of forensic science, is consistently clear, that their knowledge needs to improve and therefore their training needs to improve’. This clearly identifies a need for further training of serving police officers in forensic science. It was with this in mind that staff at the University collaborated with the West Midlands Police Service. The aim was to create a virtual reality CD-ROM that could serve as part of the continuing professional development of serving police officers in the area of scene management. Adaptation of the CD-ROM could allow some introductory materials to help undergraduate students of forensic science.