Okay…you mean this do you? Oh – you mean that: Experiences of communication about forensic science in police investigations
Howes, LM, Okay you mean this do you? Oh - you mean that: Experiences of communication about forensic science in police investigations, EAFS 2015, 6-11 September 2015, Prague, Czech Republic (2015) [Conference Extract]
This presentation considers the effectiveness of communication about forensic science in the criminal justice system from the perspectives of practitioners. Sixty-five case-reporting forensic scientists and police investigators from Australian jurisdictions participated in semi-structured interviews about their experiences and perceptions of the communication about forensic science. One-way communication was the default mode of communication between forensic scientists and police investigators at different points in the process from crime scene to court. Often a high level of technicality of language and limited case-specific detail made reliance on expert reports a challenge. For complex cases and those in which forensic science played a pivotal role, or was unfamiliar to the investigator, discussion provided an opportunity for professional development for investigators and forensic scientists. Investigators reported that discussion helped them to understand the forensic science relevant to a particular case to the level of detail needed to perform their roles effectively. Forensic scientists reported that discussion gave them greater familiarity with investigators' information needs, and provided practical experience in explaining complex concepts to non-scientists. The findings support earlier recommendations of strategies to enhance the readability of expert reports and indicate the value that practitioners place on shared professional dialogue to ensure that forensic science is understood and used effectively in investigations and in the lead up to court. The implications for practice and research are discussed in light of current communication practices and the location of forensic laboratories relative to policing organisations.