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Mobile identification technologies will soon allow rapid analysis of traces that contain DNA or of fingerprints during the crime scene investigation itself. Traces can then be compared with reference samples in databases and results will quickly be available within the on-going investigation. Although these kinds of technologies will speed up the investigation, they may also entail risks. This research investigated the influence of mobile identification technologies on the behaviour of CSIs during their investigation at the scene of the crime.

Madeleine Gruijter
Madeleine de Gruijter

The research shows that the interpretation of a crime scene with identification information differs from the interpretation of the scene without this information. The influence of identification information was  even higher when the information was provided after CSIs had constructed a scenario. The results furthermore suggest that CSIs in general have the tendency to look for offender-related traces or objects. The way the importance of a possible offender-related trace is then determined, seems to depend on CSIs’ goals. English CSIs, who mostly describe to use the investigation as a means to find the perpetrator, are influenced by the result showing a match between the trace and the database. This effect was not shown for Dutch CSIs, who more often stated to want to make a reconstruction of the crime. Dutch CSIs rated traces that were possibly left by a perpetrator as equally important, regardless of the analysis results. They still considered the relation between the trace and the crime. Finding someone’s DNA at the scene of the crime does not necessarily mean that this person committed the crime. Moreover, the crime could also have been committed by an unknown person.

Madeleine will defend her dissertation during a public ceremony on November 9th at 11.45 in the Aula of the VU University.