Forensic intelligence and crime analysis

Oxford University Press
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Ribaux, O. et al. 2003 'Forensic intelligence and crime analysis', Law Probability and Risk, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 47-60.
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Computerized databases have been developed in forensic science to provide intelligence for the investigator. For example, automated fingerprint identification systems (AFIS) and DNA databases efficiently help identify potential suspects or, particularly for DNA, link crime scenes. Other evidence such as various marks transferred during the offence, items left by the offender (such as clothing or accessories) or information captured through devices such as surveillance cameras could also be exploited systematically to provide similar intelligence. However, if such systems exist under the form of operational databases, they commonly struggle to overcome computational complexities pertaining to the retrieval and comparison of traces from large quantities of data. Thus, the use of forensic case data combined with the temporal and geographical dimensions of the crime is often felt as a necessary development, but the circumstances in which the visualization of traces on maps can help to provide accurate and useful analyses remain to be identified. A limited study will illustrate the potential of forensic case data to provide intelligence through inferences which vary from the traditional model initiated by DNA and AFIS databases. Specifically, it shows that the occurrence of certain characteristics of shoemarks, toolmarks and/or glovemarks can be concentrated in geographical areas and/or during delineated periods of time. These clusters can then be scrutinized to help reveal a series of potentially linked crimes. The experiment confirms that this two-step process, which does not require the implementation of complex computer systems, can be systematically applied as a crime analysis method and as an investigative tool.
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