"Getting it right the first time": Critical issues at the crime scene

Roberta Julian, Sally Kelty, James Robertson

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    This article examines a number of critical issues associated with the collection of forensic evidence at the crime scene. It argues that the crime scene is one of the most crucial aspects of an investigation and that the scene of the crime is where good forensic science begins. The article begins by demonstrating that high quality and useful evidence leading to accurate and fair criminal justice outcomes can only occur if the scene is processed effectively and professionally. Reducing risk of unjust outcomes is especially important in serious matters, such as homicide and sexual assault, for two reasons. First, the more serious the matter, the more likely that evidence mishandling can lead to wrongful imprisonment. Second, the more serious the matter, the more personnel will be involved, and the more likely that these personnel will be multidisciplinary (law enforcement, medicine, law, forensic science) and multi-organisational (health, justice, private legal/medical, police). Many of these personnel will have divergent work practices and divergent views about what their role is, or should be, during investigations and court trials. Drawing on empirical data from interviews with crime scene examiners, police, forensic scientists, lawyers and judges in a number of Australian jurisdictions, the article discusses the management of the crime scene as a critical issue in the justice process
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)25-37
    Number of pages13
    JournalCurrent Issues in Criminal Justice
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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