History indicates that forensic science has been in place from as early as the 16th century where medical practitioners discovered that this type of science could be used to find out more information especially in relation to pathology. Today, forensic science has become a critical tool both in the medical and criminal justice system. Generally, this type of science is used to uncover a number of miseries and find more evidence, help solve crimes and generally used to either exonerate or convict suspects charged with a number of criminal activities (Yilwa et al., 2017). Notably, forensic science under criminology concept will be used to prove that there was a crime committed by primarily examining the evidence physically, conducting tests, analyzing data collected from the scene, and giving a concise, clear report on the findings. Despite these roles, it is notable that the forensic experts are still grappling with many challenges, technology and crime tactics are increasingly evolving, some leading to poor results and wrongful convictions. In this circumstance, this paper seeks to identify the problems and challenges facing forensic sciences.
Fundamentally, technology is among the factors that usually pose a challenge on the efforts of forensic scientists; the dynamic nature of technology that is ever evolving has been a stumbling block in solving crimes. For instances, two centuries ago, cybercrimes and related crimes never existed. However with the advent of computers and internet, cybercrimes made scientists and criminal investigators venture into digital forensics; however, there is a great deal when dealing with technology(Lillis et al. 2016). Firstly, there the issue of technical challenge where criminals are using more sophisticated technology to effect criminal activities that are tough for investigators to solve. In this regard, it is notable that basically, the forensic scientists and investigators have to improve and invest in further training and update their technology, which is always an expensive venture.
Furthermore and concerning the above, it is notable that the ever-changing technology makes forensic science a costly venture. As a challenge, some of the forensic laboratories do not have the required resources to keep up with updates technology. Due to lack of resources, it is evident that the collected sample end up being contaminated from the scene of a crime and when in the laboratory (Shepherd and Lewis-Fernandez, 2016). The resulting outcome is evidenced by investigators giving out invalid or fundamentally unreliable result. This problem, when used in the criminal justice system, may result in wrongful convictions and abuse of justice. Lack of resources also implies that there is no proper validation of results
On the other hand, forensic scientist and investigators play a critical role in the justice system. However, as noted by Shepherd and Lewis-Fernandez, 2016 some forensic investigators have fallen short of ethics. Some breach the code of conduct, are corrupt and cheats. As a result of these vices, they give misleading and inaccurate results. They deliberately make mistakes or contaminate specimens in the laboratory which is unethical, through there misconduct, the analysts fabricate results and even give out falsified results without conducting thorough methodological testing and present them as accurate results which significantly defeats the primary goal of forensic science in criminology.
Additionally, it is also notable that forensic analysts equally face the challenges posed by legal requirements. Legal challenges arise in relation to jurisdiction (Lillis et al. 2016). For instance, where there is a cybercrime committed or a general crime requiring forensic investigation. It is worth noting that digital forensics will be invoked. For example in the USA, when a hacker from Russia is successful, the US law enforcers and authorities have no powers to enter Russian jurisdiction and effect arrests. The two countries have separate legal systems, and thus a criminal may walk away scot-free. In the same breath, this legal challenge arises because of individuals rights. Investigators cannot easily hunt down a digital criminal without necessarily infringing on the individuals’ rights of privacy.
Fundamentally, as forensic investigators and analysts, it is notable that there is a more significant workload that they have to deal with daily. The workload revolves around arriving and securing the crime scene, collecting samples, storing, analyzing and interpreting result despite this workload, and the investigators have a smaller window of time in which they have to give accurate and authentic to solve a case timely (Lillis et al. 2016). Generally, having this pressure in mind, it is notable that there are chances that the results may contain mistakes, may have errors or may not be conclusive. This challenge is also related to the fact that there are few forensic experts or professionals trained.
Conclusively, forensic science plays a significant role in criminology and dispensation of criminal justice as discussed above. In the same breath, despite its advantages and successes, it is worth noting that forensics is equally affected by many challenges. The first challenges as noted above include the dynamic technology where forensics has to update their techniques with the new technological innovations. Additionally, there are also ethical dilemmas, legal issues, resources shortages among other factors that pose a challenge to forensic science in criminology. Moreover, it is also evident that most forensic analysts are rational human beings who have undergone formal training and may easily make errors or mistakes in the course of their duty.
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Shepherd, S. M., & Lewis-Fernandez, R. (2016). Forensic risk assessment and cultural diversity: Contemporary challenges and future directions. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 22(4), 427.
Lillis, D., Becker, B., O’Sullivan, T., & Scanlon, M. (2016). Current challenges and future research areas for digital forensic investigation. arXiv preprint arXiv:1604.03850.