HISTORY OF FORENSIC SCIENCES
Crime in some form or the other has existed since the beginning of human race. With the advancement in science and technology the concept of crime as well as the methods adopted by criminals in its commission have undergone a phenomenal change. On one hand the intelligent criminal has been quick to exploit science for his criminal acts , on the other hand the investigator is no longer able to rely on age old art of interrogation and methods to detect crime.
In this context FORENSIC SCIENCE has found its existence.
FORENSIC SCIENCE : Definition
The term forensic is derived from the Latin word forensis which means belonging to courts of justice or to public discussion and debate. it therefore means the science which is used in courts for justice.
CRIMINALISTICS is synonym used in U.S.A.
If you remember the term ‘Eureka’, then you would also know where the History of Forensic Science started. History considers Archimedes (287-212 BC), the man behind the exclamation ‘Eureka,’ as the father of forensic science. He had exulted when he had found out that a crown was not made of gold, (as it was falsely claimed) by its density and buoyancy. After Archimedes we come to know of another early forensic science application by Soleiman, an Arabic merchant of the 7th century. He used fingerprints as a proof of validity between debtors and lenders.
In the 700s, the Chinese also used the fingerprint concept. In the 1000s, Quintilian, a prosecutor in the Roman courts, used a similar method to solve murders. The first document that mentions the use of Forensics in legal matters is the book Xi Yuan Ji Lu (translated as “Collected Cases of Injustice Rectified”) written in 1248 by Chinese author Song Ci.
Forensic science became quite widespread in 16th century Europe. Medics began to use their knowledge to investigate the cause of death. Ambrose Paré, a French army surgeon, two Italian surgeons, Fortunato Fidelis and Paolo Zacchia were some of the pioneers in this field.
Then we have a series of written record like “A Treatise on Forensic Medicine and Public Health” by the French physician Fodéré and “The Complete System of Police Medicine” by the German medic Johann Peter Franck and the first dissertation on systematic document examination published by François Demelle of France. In 1686, Marcello Malpighi, a professor of anatomy at the University of Bologna, identified the fingerprint method.
In the 18th century, many scholars did some groundbreaking work in Forensics. Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele and German chemist Valentin Ross led the way. England also solved a number of murder cases using forensic science. For instance, in the year 1784 in Lancaster, John Toms was convicted of murder, when a torn bit of a newspaper in a gun was found matching a leftover paper in his pocket.
In the 19th century, scholars like Thomas Bewick, an English naturalist, Spanish professor of medicinal/forensic chemistry Mathiew Orfila, John Evangelist Purkinji, professor of anatomy at the University of Breslau, to name a few, made history in forensic science.
Eugène François Vidocq is another name in record since he established the first detective force, the Sûreté of Paris. Then can we forget Arthur Conan Doyle who wrote the first Sherlock Holmes case in Beeton’s Christmas Annual of London?
In the 20th century, there was no stopping the forensic timeline. It was the time when we got the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI launched its Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) with the first computerized scans. With the arrival of the computer, there was no looking back. Today there is no crime solving without forensic science. The History of Forensic Science is there to prove its worth.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE SCIENCE THROUGH AGES
In the beginning of the 19th century, natural sciences began to develop rapidly. Justice was always in search of impartial evidence, as against testimony of unwilling, hostile, indifferent witnesses. At the same time , Sir Arthur Conan Doyle , through his fictional character Sherlock Holmes popularized scientific crime detection methods. This help publicize amongst scientists and investigators that science could aid in criminal detection. most pioneering work originated in Europe. many can be cited as contributors in building the foundation.
Father of modern toxicology. In the early part of the 19th century he established in Paris methods of scientific chemical analysis of poisons , which are in use even today.
of France was 1st to evolve a scientific system of personal identification. in 1879 he developed the science of ANTHROPOMETRY, a systemic procedure of taking a series of body measurements to facilitate distinguishing one individual from another. With the invention of photography he was the first to use it in criminal investigation. IN 1881 , he began to take standard pictures of all French criminals and file them in the Bureau of Identification than in Paris. His efforts have earned him the distinction of being known as the Father of Criminal Investigation.
of U.K. undertook the first systemic study of fingerprints. He developed a methodology of classifying the fingerprints for filing purposes .in 1892, he published a book on fingerprints giving a sound statistical proof of uniqueness of individualization through fingerprints.
of Austria, a lawyer by profession, spent many years studying the principles of criminal investigation. He published a book on criminal investigation (later published in English) , a classic in 1893 , 'Handbuch fur Untersuchnugsrichter'.
in 1910 established a police laboratory in Lyons and later founded the Institute of Criminalistics at the University of Lyons. he propounded the famous PRINCIPLE OF EXCHANGE , which forms the basis of forensic examination of physical evidence.
in 1901 discovered that blood could be grouped into different categories. Following this Dr. Leone Lattes of Italy devised a relatively simple procedure for determining the blood group of dried bloodstains and immediately adopted this technique for criminal investigation.
a U.S. army colonel perfected the science of ballistics . He developed a comparison microscope for comparison of crime and test fired bullets to determine whether or not a particular weapon was used in the offence.
developed fundamental principles of document examination, which gave acceptance to documents as scientific evidence by the courts. in 1910 he wrote the classic QUESTIONED DOCUMENTS which is primary book of reference for document experts.
During the post World War I period, Locard's successes in the application of scientific methods in criminal investigation served as a impetus for formation of police labs in Berlin, Vienna , Sweden , Finland and Holland . This was followed by formation of a forensic lab in Los Angeles Police Department in USA in 1923. In 1932, FBI organised a national lab ,which offered forensic services to all the law enforcement agencies in USA by establishing Metropolitan Forensic Sciences Laboratory at Scotland Yard in 1935.
After World War II there was a sudden spurt in crime rate due to large scale availability of firearms. further, due to mobility an documentation organised and white collar crime proliferated. Western countries had to mobilize scientific aids to combat the growing menace.
Today U.S. alone has about 250 labs . A small country as UK established 11 more regional labs in different parts. another development was the creation of central research establishment in Aldermaston in 1966 , wholly devoted to basic research in forensic science. Japan has a huge national research institute of forensic science in Tokyo and several regional labs. west Germany set up over 21 forensic labs . Italy 13 , France 4 , Canada 7 and Switzerland 4 .
There are as many as 1100 forensic science laboratories in 89 countries.