Combining forensic science and criminology to foster innovation in policing


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Combining forensic science and criminology to foster innovation in policing
Policing: : A Journal of Policy and Practice
Weyermann Céline, Jendly Manon, Rossy Quentin
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Dear Policing readers, we present to you a very special issue of the journal exclusively written by scientists and practitioners from the School of Criminal Justice of Lausanne, known as the Ecole des sciences criminelles (ESC) in French. You will discover a diversity of contributions combining disciplines dedicated to the study of crimes: forensic science, focusing on physical and digital traces to reconstruct events, and criminology, interested in behaviours, actors and social reactions; both contributing to policing.
Several keywords and concepts define the rapid evolution of our society, of the different harms that come upon it and the (re)actions to prevent them from happening. As guest co-editors of this special issue, we wanted to address them through an interdisciplinary problem-based approach, addressing an increasingly digitalised world, with which academic and police institutions have difficulty to keep pace. The need to improve empirical methods around both physical and massively generated digital traces is particularly highlighted. Confronted to a huge amount of existing data, the question of how to handle big data and privacy arises in policing. On the one hand, we strive to collect or use as much data as possible to detect, identify, analyse and solve crime problems. On the other hand, the relevant information is often hidden in the mass. Thus, the general idea should not be to collect more data, but to find the reliable and relevant data to extract useful information. Case studies are discussed to illustrate how police investigation and management can combine physical and digital traces to improve the detection, resolution and prevention of (cyber)crime phenomena.
Data and traces are not the sole core object of study that can bind forensic science and criminology to foster policing. Identities and generalised human traceability also play a critical role to reconstruct criminal behaviours. In forensic science, identity-related information are used to link suspects and objects to criminal activities and guide the investigative and judiciary process to find and sentence authors. In criminology, criminal behaviours are also scrutinised to infer offender profiles, modus operandi and trajectories. Such information, increasingly digital as well, serves many different purposes such as identification, localisation, reconstruction, case-linking, or even crime prevention.
Several contributions also discuss the importance of cross-fertilization between research, education and practice both from an academic and policing point of view. While routine responses of police services to problems have to be very quick, academic research can slow the pace to gain an overview of the situations and propose global solutions based on intelligence and crime analysis. This special issue illustrates that it is impossible to address and solve real-life problems such as crime without collaboration. Indeed, crime-related problems are interdisciplinary in nature and the current global digitalisation transformation has profound impacts on crime, criminals and social reactions. The scale of change involves rethinking approaches to jointly manage mass data. This is a key venture to reframe and join disciplines within a critical-thinking approach. Current societal evolution undeniably requires to fasten policing, forensic science and criminology for more than their own sake.

Forensic Science, Criminology, Problem-Based Approach, Interdisciplinarity, Digitalisation, Big Data, Intelligence, Identity
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11/01/2018 11:47
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20/08/2019 15:53
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