The Criminology of the Future: How Science helps us to Investigate Crimes

By | June 16, 2021
The Criminology of the Future

The incorporation of science as an essential tool has played a vital role in crime investigation on time. As we know time is of the essence in any investigation, to look for that ultimate truth, we need ample kind of resources which will facilitate the investigators in reaching the conclusion. Here, science plays a crucial role as it expedites the entire investigation process and helps the investigators at each stage in ascertaining their next lookout.

Therefore, we say that science is the new criminology of the future because now we can get to know the answers from the crime scene by application of efficient scientific techniques. Here in this article, we will discuss how science helps us in investigating crimes.

I. Introduction

Criminology refers to the field of the scientific study of crime and criminals deviant behaviour. But over the past thirty-five years, the forensic sciences have made a dramatic breakthrough to study the crime scene scientifically through proper instrumentation. It will not be incorrect to say that forensic science has made a huge contribution in advancements of the impact of scientific evidence needed in the investigation of criminal cases.

Let’s take an instance of a crime scene. A family member is found dead in the backyard with things scattered and blood on the ground. The supposed culprit is from the other family members, specifically someone who has a grudge against the deceased. But everyone from the family denies the same in their statements.

From here, several questions arise, as to why the deceased person was killed, who could be the murderer then, how he was killed, and what was his motive. But to answer all these questions, one needs to first study the crime scene and accordingly gather sufficient evidence to reach any conclusion. Now, at this point, forensic criminology comes to play its part in the investigation to have a detailed study of the crime scene. It established the link between the circumstances existing at the scene with the evidence gathered which will give us accurate, reliable, and unbiased information.

Meanwhile, criminology studies the behaviour of the family members interrogates or cross-interrogates them to find any relevant link, and matches the evidence obtained in the course of investigation with the statements. Therefore, criminology and forensic science supplement each other in conducting a criminal investigation.

These days, society is going through major technological advancement and with these advancements, perpetrators have also evolved their techniques to hide their criminal identity. There are easily accessible sources and information available on the internet through which the perpetrator can learn how to give effect to his criminal act in a unique way. This is indeed true because there are several cases coming up nowadays where the accused confesses to having learned the idea of committing a crime without getting caught in a movie, series, or novel.

The use of the dark web in this regard makes the circumstances more disturbing, leaving no trace of information. So, we can say in one aspect that not only technical improvements have facilitated the authorities in the criminal justice process but it has also helped out many perpetrators to give effect to their criminal activities in an advanced way.

Therefore, it is very necessary to put greater emphasis on the use of forensic criminology to be ahead of those perpetrators in any way and ensure that they are caught without any delay so that evidence remains protected as well. Some of the subjects used to study forensic criminology for justice dispensation are DNA Profiling, fluid analysis, handwriting analysis, biology, criminal psychology, computer science, physics, chemistry, and so on.

II. How Forensic Criminology works in Crime Investigation

Forensic science or Forensic criminology works majorly on three fundamental principles:

  1. Principle of Individuality
  2. Principle of Exchange
  3. Principle of Progressive Change

Let us understand these basic principles in detail one by one[1]:

Principle of Individuality

The principle of individuality is attributed to Paul L Kirk (1963) and is considered as the building block for forensic science. Individuality implies that every entity, whether person or object, can only be identical to itself and so is unique. No two objects be it, natural or artificial can be exactly the same.

As per Kirk, the primary aim of forensic science is to emphasize the source of two items (questioned and known, or mark and print), which are thought to have come from a single source. As no fingerprints are the same, this suggests that identification can be indirectly shown through the analysis of traces and samples found on the crime scene. Fingerprints have been used as evidence in various criminal case laws and one fine example is State v. Karugope[2] in which the Patna HC has ruled that the opinion of the fingerprint expert is sufficient evidence for conviction of the accused.

In India, The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 contains provisions wherein fingerprints are considered as a valid piece of evidence to form an opinion on a point of law which includes foreign law, science or art, handwriting, finger impression, the opinion of persons skilled in that particular area will be accepted.[3]

In Ammini v. State of Kerala[4] Supreme Court has given a significant ruling in this regard. In the case, the fingerprints were found on the glasses recovered from the deceased home. The expert compared and tallied those fingerprints with that of the accused. But the Trial Court didn’t believe this as an important piece of evidence on the point. The High Court criticized the Trial Court’s view and while giving the final judgment the Supreme Court relied on establishing the guilt of the accused based on the fingerprints evidence.

Principle of Exchange

The principle of exchange principle in forensic science is attributed to Edmond Locard. The exchange principle provides that whenever two objects or subjects interact, some sort of trace is left behind at the crime scene; for example, blood, fibres, hairs, and gunshot residues. Locard suggests that there are many traces left behind which, if interpreted properly, can be the most valuable asset in giving accurate information.

The Principle of Progressive Change

The next principle of Progressive change suggests that different objects change, although they may change across different spans of time, including the blood samples found at the crime scenes which will eventually degrade.

On the contrary, some objects are far more durable than others and may be relatively permanent, remaining mostly unchanged during identification.  Here, the durable objects can be useful in the investigation for the identification of the person, but for the objects which are easily degradable like the blood sample, their main features change during the identification process, making it uncertain to answer the question of sameness.

III. Conclusion

Advancement in forensic science study is providing us with an unprecedented opportunity to solve crime cases and expose mistakes committed while investigating. It eventually helps the investigators to get on the right track within the right time in order to process the crime cases and catch the accused. Therefore, there is more than the necessity for an evolving technical advancement in the field of crime processing which will help to solve cases at the earliest and with quite accuracy.

The only requirement is a promising clue from the scientific analysis of the crime scene and it gives a heads up to the investigators to get on the right path. This way, science is helpful for the field of criminology and the criminal justice system to expedite the entire investigation process.

[1] Learn about the Principles that Underpin Forensic Analysis, Available Here

[2] AIR 1954 Pat. 131.

[3] The Indian Evidence Act, 1872, sec. 45.

[4] AIR 1995 Ker 252.

  1. Law Library: Notes and Study Material for LLB, LLM, Judiciary and Entrance Exams
  2. Legal Bites Academy – Ultimate Test Prep Destination
Author: Deepshikha

Deepshikha is a law student from National Law University, Odisha.

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