Law

Crime Scene Investigation Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update


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What is Crime Scene Investigation?

Crime scene investigation is a science known as forensics. Crime Scene Investigation is the use of the physical evidence found at the scene of a crime and the use of deductive and inductive reasoning to gain knowledge of the events surrounding the crime.

The purpose of Crime Scene Investigation is to help establish what happened through crime scene reconstruction so that the responsible parties can be identified. Crime scene investigators are responsible for processing and categorizing evidence so that it can be used in criminal investigations. This might include gathering photographic evidence or physical samples from the scene, such as weapons, fingerprints, clothing, or biological evidence.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering Crime Scene Investigation courses in the following subject areas:

  • Diploma in Crime Scene Investigation – Gain a basic understanding of practical crime scene management, offender profiling, and fingerprinting.
  • Elements of Forensic Science – Explore how forensic scientists work and how chemistry, DNA, and genetics are used in crime scene investigations.
  • Forensic Science – Gain the knowledge and skills needed for crime scene investigation and evidence examination.
  • Computer Forensics and Investigations – Gain the knowledge and skills to investigate forensic computing incidents.
  • Digital Forensics for Cyber Professionals – The study of the investigation and recovery of data in digital devices that are related to cybercrimes.
  • Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator – a focus on the digital domain which involves network, computer, and mobile forensics.
  • Computing: Security & Forensics – The study of the identification, collection, examination, and analysis of digital data.

Studying Crime Scene Investigation in college

Many Crime Scene Investigation courses take place over 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover all theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials, and taught modules. Assessments will take place continuously with written examinations and practical assignments combined to achieve a qualification.

It isn’t easy to find work experience specifically in the role of a crime scene investigator. This is primarily due to vetting and health and safety requirements, and the importance of being fully trained before being given the responsibility of collecting evidence that could be used in a court of law.

Related work experience with the police is advantageous and you can gain this in several ways, including working as a special police officer, as a volunteer, or via an internship program that might start to expose you to the tasks involved in scenes of crime work.

Other related areas you could gain experience in are intelligence gathering and analysis, security services, or with a private forensic service provider. Experience in working with the public is also important, particularly as you may be working with people in sensitive situations.

Work Experience will not only allow you to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, but it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing a course in Crime Scene Investigation you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of scientific concepts, law, and law enforcement.

Working hours will depend on where you have been employed and the position that you have but generally, you will have full-time working hours of around 30 to 40 hours per week. Hours of work are on a shift pattern as crime scene investigators respond to calls from the police to attend scenes of crime 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year round. Senior crime scene investigators and managers often work more regular hours without the need to work evenings and weekends.

The work is likely to be varied and you’ll need to be prepared to expect the unexpected. A lot of your time will be spent out at the location of the scene which is under investigation, but you’ll come back to the police station to store evidence and write reports of your findings.

You’ll need to be prepared to work in different environments and will have to travel to incident scenes. At times, this will involve being in all weathers and difficult and maybe hostile situations. You may attend incidents that can be upsetting and will need to be able to focus on the task despite difficult circumstances.

To do well in the role, you’ll need to be passionate about providing a service to the public and understand the needs of different communities.

Related jobs include:

  • Crime Scene Investigator
  • Forensic Investigator
  • Medical examiner
  • Chemist
  • Forensic engineer
  • Toxicologist
  • DNA analyst
  • Lab technician
  • Computer technician
  • Fingerprint expert
  • Handwriting expert
  • Psychiatrist
  • Anthropologist
  • Ballistics expert

Further study

After completing a course in Crime Scene Investigation you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skillset. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practice in certain career areas such as biological science, chemistry, criminology, psychology, or digital media and photography.

FAQ

Are there different types of crime scenes?

Different types of crime scenes include outdoors, indoor, and conveyance. Outdoor crime scenes are the most difficult to investigate. The exposure to elements such as rain, wind, or heat, as well as animal activity, contaminates the crime scene and leads to the destruction of evidence.

Are there specific steps that Crime Scene Investigators follow?

A crime scene examination is complex and different crimes will require different approaches as well as different approaches depending on where the crime scene is located. Indoor, outdoor and conveyance crime scenes all have unique aspects to consider, but generally speaking, some basic steps remain no matter where or what the crime.

1. Identify Scene Dimensions

· Locate the focal point of the scene

· Establish a perimeter large enough to contain relevant evidence

· It’s better to establish a larger scene than needed.

2. Establish Security

· Tape around the perimeter

· Depending on the number of people, consider security guards

3. Create a Plan & Communicate

· Determine the type of crime that occurred

· Identify any threats to evidence, such as weather

· Consider if additional resources are necessary

· Communicate with your team about how to proceed

· Outdoor crime scenes are more vulnerable to loss due to the elements.

4. Conduct Primary Survey

· Identify potential evidence

· Capture photographs and take good notes

5. Document and Process Scene

· Using the plan from step three, begin processing the scene

· Collect all evidence and keep detailed documentation

6. Conduct Secondary Survey

· Conduct another walkthrough to ensure everything has been processed and recorded

7. Record and Preserve Evidence

· Use an inventory log to account for all evidence

· Create thorough descriptions that match photographs taken at the scene

· Follow a clear chain of custody throughout the investigation

Are there different methods of documenting a crime scene?

There are several methods of documentation: Notes, photography, sketches, and video are all important. Note-taking is one of the most important parts of processing the crime scene.

Where can I study Crime Scene Investigation?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

· You leave a trail behind you everywhere you go. The trail is made up of hairs, cells, and body fluids.

· Your DNA is unique from your brothers and sisters because trillions of different combinations of your parents’ DNA are possible.

· No two fingerprints have ever been found alike. The first criminal fingerprint identification was made in 1892 by Juan Vucetich. It proved that a mother had killed her sons.

· Luminol is used at crime scenes to detect small amounts of blood. It reacts with iron in the hemoglobin and emits blue light.

· The study of skin markings or patterns on fingers, hands, and feet, used for fingerprinting or footprinting, is called dermatoglyphics. Koalas have fingerprints that are almost indistinguishable from human fingerprints.


Mariza Halliday

Criminology & Criminal Justice Courses
Common Law Courses


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