New study will investigate role of forensic science in the investigation of homicide cases

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USW criminologists have been commissioned by the Home Office to provide evidence on the impact of forensic science on the criminal justice system.

Professor Fiona Brookman and Dr Helen Jones will seek to capture data that will allow measurement of the impact of forensic science on the investigation and prosecution of homicide cases, from crime scene to court, information that will have a real value to policy makers and operational policing alike. 

Marie Barrett, part of the Forensic Policy Team at the Home Office, who is leading the project said she chose to collaborate with Brookman and Jones because of their wealth of experience in this area. 

The researchers’ ongoing project Homicide Investigation and Forensic Science: Tracing Processes, Analysing Practices (HIFS), funded by the Leverhulme Trust, examines how forensic sciences and technologies such as DNA profiling, fingerprint examination, and digital evidence from mobile phones, computers and CCTV, contribute to the police investigation of homicide in Britain.

“In January 2020, the Home Office initiated a project to develop an approach to measuring the impact of forensic science on the criminal justice system,” said Marie. “Professor Brookman and Dr Jones provided valuable insight in this initial phase, and brought their extensive research background to help refine, challenge and focus many of its aspects.


“Following this, I commissioned them to undertake this extended proof of principle study, applying our approach to their own unique and extensive data set derived from the HIFS project.

“The study forms an important part of the assessment of the viability and efficacy of our proposed approach to measuring impact. The project’s ultimate aim is to have an ongoing assessment of forensic impact. This in turn will provide an evidence base to inform government and senior policing’s policy and investment decisions with regard to forensic science.”