Forensic Science

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What it is

Forensic science is the application of science to the law, both civil and criminal, although it is mainly employed in criminal law. Forensic scientists work in many different branches, from the crime scene with police forensic staff and scenes of crime officers, through to private forensic providers offering a wide range of services, who analyse items collected as part of a scientific examination of a crime, providing reports and statements to be used in the prosecution of a case. The scientists will often also appear in court as expert witnesses.

How to get into forensic science

A forensic scientist will normally specialise in one of several disciplines such as drugs, toxicology, DNA, digital or environmental forensics. Apprenticeships in forensic science are offered through private forensic laboratories and through the police. Ideally individuals wishing to become forensic scientists will have an undergraduate degree in a pure science followed by a master’s level forensic specialist degree. Police staff who work in fingerprint identification, fingermark development or in scene-going departments are frequently trained in-house in their particular specialism.
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How does BAFS support forensic science?

BAFS is a truly interdisciplinary organisation that adds a breadth of understanding to the scientist as they engage with others in the forensic arena: lawyers, pathologists, clinicians and psychiatrists. The Academy has a programme of world-renowned speakers and organises specialist technical meetings. Students are encouraged to attend and the meetings are normally free for those studying or in the early stages of their careers. The Academy also offers prizes annually in the three disciplines: medicine, science and the law, and publishes its own journal.

Forensic Medicine

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Forensic medicine covers doctors working in the following areas: forensic medical practitioners (forensic physicians, sexual assault examiners, adult and child), forensic pathologists, forensic psychiatrist, medical examiners, medico-legal advisers; and medically qualified coroners.

Forensic Psychiatry

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Forensic psychiatry is a medical specialty that provides assistance to the criminal courts when issues arise as to the mental state of defendants, witnesses and complainants. It is not to be confused with forensic psychology and it is far removed from television’s Cracker.

Law Matters

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Any forensic expert can increase their professional contribution to the UK criminal (and civil) justice systems by ensuring they have a clear and up to date grasp of what the law requires of them.