A Touch of Forensics, a talk by David Ince

Hadleigh Gardening Association, 19th May 2011

These notes were compiled from the talk given by David Ince. David worked 38 years in the Metropolitan Police, has lived in Hadleigh 34 years and is a member of the Rotary Club.  

The key forensic principle is to record what you see, not what you think you see.  

The need for this principle was emphasised by a series of optical illusions, some of which we had not seen before, to demonstrate that the eye and brain can give misleading results under some conditions.  

Key traces at scenes of crime were then reviewed.

Fingerprints,  as everyone -even identical twins- reportedly have different prints.  Fingerprints were initially classified by Sir Edward Henry,  commissioner between 1903 and 1918.  Currently, trained investigators look for characteristic loops, whorls, arches and other ridge features.  

The audience was interested to see actual fingerprints developed and circulated.   

Another famous pioneer was Professor Edmond Locard (1877 -1966) of Lyons, who created the principle of material exchange between two items that come into contact. 

Fragments can be sent up to nine feet from glass breakage and there are unique features from impacts which indicate the direction from which an object came towards the glass.

Shoe prints; it seems that forensic coveralls are complemented by soles that show ‘Met Police’ so the forensic team don’t waste time on their own footprints.

Ear-prints,  a method invented in Holland.

Paint, fibre and other technologies were also outlined to show the wide range of skills now required by Forensic practitioners. 

Gardening depends on being able to judge where plants will grow best based on soil type, location and temperature amongst other variables;  so it was interesting to see how forensic investigators have to exercise similar attention to detail but in a codified and documented way. 

Entry to this career is through first and advanced degrees in forensic science and not from within the police force.   International co-operation through Interpol and other agencies helps to spread the most advanced techniques around the world.

David concluded with examples of crime-scenes attended, without the gory bits, mostly.     However, I have elected to not illustrate this article!

Definition of “Forensic:”  relating to the application of scientific methods and techniques to investigation of crime.

Any errors are the responsibility of the author and not Hadleigh Gardening Association or David Ince.

This page was added by Nick Turner on 02/11/2011.