UCL Centre for the Forensic Sciences
The UCL Centre for the Forensic Sciences is a ground-breaking interdisciplinary initiative that brings together academics and practitioners committed to developing the academic discipline. Our research is empirically based, casework informed, and focused on delivering real world impact. Through all our activities we aim to create innovative solutions to complex challenges in forensic science, to ultimately aid the justice system.
"...The simple reality is that the interpretation of forensic evidence is not always based on scientific studies to determine its validity. This is a serious problem. Although research has been done in some disciplines, there is a notable dearth of peer-revied, published studies establishing the scientific bases and validity of many forensic methods." (National Academy of Sciences - Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward p8) (pdf)
Our research is focused on two major themes:
- Trace evidence dynamics
Our research within the field of trace evidence dynamics concerns understanding the behaviour of trace evidence in different contexts and within different environments over space and time. Developing an evidence base for how trace evidence behaves in this way enables the interpretation of particular traces found in specific places and times in a context sensitive manner. It also provides the means for trace evidence to offer robust intelligence and evidence during investigations and crime reconstructions, and to establish evidence based collection approaches. Our work covers a range of different types of trace evidence including:
- Geoforensic science
- Trace DNA
- Gunshot residue
- Explosive residues
- Interpretation of evidence
The interpretation of forensic evidence is crucial for its value to be realised. Accurate interpretation enables forensic evidence to be valuable to investigations and to assist a court. Our research addresses a number of areas within the interpretation of evidence domain, and uses different fields of forensic science to identify and assess the key issues. This enables us to develop approaches to harness the value of different forms of forensic evidence. Our work is concerned with two main areas:
- Cognitive issues
- Bayesian approaches
Our teaching is delivered through the Department of Security and Crime Science. We offer postgraduate research and postgraduate taught programmes in crime and forensic science.
- MSc Crime and Forensic Science
The MSc in Crime and Forensic Science is a unique programme in the UK, focusing as it does on forensic science within a holistic crime science framework. Many of our graduates have gone on to work for the police, the National Crime Agency and other organisations directly related to crime investigation and prevention. Others have gone on to do research in forensic science or pursue further studies in forensic science and the law.
Through UCL SECReT, the first centre for PhD training in crime and security in Europe, students can undertake postgraduate research in forensic science.
Our academics can offer consultancy in the following areas:
- Evidence interpretation
- DNA evidence
- Forensic geoscience (e.g. soil analysis)