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Title: The 'chain of evidence' : a critical appraisal of the applicability and validity of forensic research and the utility of forensic evidence
Author: Heinrich, D. P.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5369 2776
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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In the past ten years the scientific basis of forensic science has been challenged, its reliability and validity in court contested and commercialisation of forensic provision introduced in England and Wales. In light of this there is the need for increased research into establishing a sound body of knowledge for forensic science, which supports the requirements of its end- users. This requires an increase in resources for forensic research, as well as evidence-based direction that is centred on the use of forensic evidence by law enforcement. This thesis explored the applicability and reliability of forensic research and investigated the impact forensic evidence has in court. By means of a case study, experimental findings regarding the effects of fire on sharp force trauma in bone highlighted the prevalence of assumptions made in forensic research. The results demonstrated the need to ensure that experimental studies within the forensic domain incorporate ‘forensic reality’ into experimental design in order to ensure findings are applicable to casework. The role of experimental research within the forensic sciences is crucial; however, frameworks must be created to enable research to be undertaken in collaboration with end-users to ensure results are applicable and implementable. Subsequently, using a mixed-methods approach, 115 homicide cases in London were analysed to assess the efficacy of forensic evidence in court. Medical evidence, CCTV, voice recognition and defence witnesses had the greatest effect on the adjudication of these cases. The findings provide law enforcement with empirical evidence of which types of evidence are most prevalent and have the greatest impact in a criminal trial. Understanding the utility of forensic evidence also provides support to forensic researchers and policy makers for directing research and resources. By conducting research that analyses both forensic research and evidence, this thesis demonstrates the benefits of a unified approach to forensic science.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available