Foren­sics un­der mi­cro­scope

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Western Opinion - By JON BAS­SETT

HOW peo­ple han­dle their prop­erty af­ter a bur­glary, theft or more se­ri­ous crime is vi­tal to the work of foren­sic po­lice us­ing the lat­est DNA and sam­pling tech­nol­ogy to catch crim­i­nals.

“A crit­i­cal part to the success of an ex­am­i­na­tion is lim­it­ing the con­tam­i­na­tion of the scene be­tween the time of the of­fender’s de­par­ture and the ar­rival of in­ves­ti­ga­tors,” Sergeant Craig Markham told the Western Suburbs Weekly.

Sgt Markham su­per­vises nine North­bridge-based foren­sic of­fi­cers, who use their skills and tech­nol­ogy to in­ves­ti­gate crimes in suburbs from Bayswa­ter, in and around Perth, through the western suburbs to Jolimont, and north through the City of Stir­ling.

A lot of their success de­pends on whether a vic­tim touches sur­faces and valu­ables in their search for what else may be miss­ing, or mis­tak­enly clean or tidy a mess left by bur­glars.

“Peo­ple will nat­u­rally search through their prop­erty to lo­cate valu­ables and sen­ti­men­tal items to as­cer­tain the ex­tent of the crime, as they of­ten ask them­selves ‘who, why and when’, and this usu­ally in­volves han­dling the items touched or left be­hind by the of­fender,” Sgt Markham said. Vic­tims should de­scribe the crime scene to po­lice as de­tailed and as soon as pos­si­ble, so of­fi­cers can say how it should be pre­served for a foren­sic ex­am­i­na­tion.

“Fin­ger­prints, DNA, shoe and tool im­pres­sions are the more com­mon forms of ev­i­dence a foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tor will tar­get, but most vic­tims don’t have ex­pe­ri­ence of foren­sic ex­am­i­na­tion in the field and are in­flu­enced by what is known as the ‘CSI ef­fect’, in which their ex­pec­ta­tion is based on the TV se­ries, which can lead to high-yield­ing ex­hibits be­ing in­cor­rectly han­dled,” Sgt Markham said.

Most foren­sic ev­i­dence is found where the crim­i­nal has en­tered a house, in a car or on a hand­bag.

Sgt Markham said lock­ing doors and win­dows in houses, sheds and garages, keeping valu­ables out of sight and tak­ing them out of cars would still help pre­vent crimes.

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