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Is CSI Helping Criminals Perfect their Skills?


The DNA test is becoming more and more popular in solving crime if TV shows such as Crime Scene Investigationare to be believed. It seems crimes are immediately solved thanks to some fibres or DNA left on the crime scene by the perpetrator. But shows such as CSI have been accused of helping criminals cover their tracks by becoming more aware of how not to leave DNA on the crime scene.

The CSI Effect

What has been dubbed as the CSI effect is being taken seriously in America. A prosecutor in Oregon told The Guardian newspaper that rapists are now bringing bleach with them to effectively sanitise the crime scene. In one manslaughter case, two women were convicted of killing an older woman in their care before dumping the body in a ravine. They were huge fans of CSI and bragged to their friends that the police would never prove the crime.

The DNA Test on Crime Scenes

Forensic science that uses a DNA based test in crime scenes has advanced in recent years. The test, known as DNA fingerprinting, means there has never been a more challenging time for criminals. They have to work harder to avoid shedding damning biological clues that link them to the crime. Soon the test will have evolved so much in forensic crime that they will be able to build a 3D image of the suspect, down to the colour of their eyes. But there is also always the possibility of specimens and a test getting mixed up or sabotaged.

Caught by a DNA Test

Crime still needs old fashioned detective work too. Criminals may be learning what not to leave behind at crime scenes to avoid being caught by a test, but in Ohio a man was still charged with murdering a mother and daughter without leaving DNA traces because he was given away by an ex-girlfriend.

No DNA Evidence

The problem however has also leaked into the jury system. Forensic programmes on TV are so concerned with hair, sweat or fabrics for a test that prosecutors have said jurors are increasingly reluctant to convict without hi-tech forensic evidence, whereas in many cases there is no clear DNA evidence. DNA evidence can use a range of samples including hair and blood, but these are just two of the many samples that can be tested. Other samples often found at  crime scenes are finger nails, underwear and clothing belonging to the victim, semen and bodily fluids, bones, teeth and many, many more, To view a partial list showing the main samples uses, visit our forensic DNA samples page.

Guilty of Not Being Good Looking Enough

Of course a DNA test in real life can be incredibly useful in everyday scenarios such as proving paternity – not just in crime scenes. And it is worth keeping TV clichés in perspective. Otherwise, everyone would expect forensic scientists to be fantastically handsome men and amazingly glamorous women.

Forensic Criminal Cases solved with Hair

A number of forensic cases have been solved using samples of hair found at a crime scene. Hair samples make very suitable samples for DNA testing if the hairs tested still have the roots. Here are two interesting stories for crime and forensic enthusiasts about DNA testing cases solved with hair samples:

Learn more about the structure of hair and the DNA found in the hair root and hair shaft by reading this article.

Read the story  about the find of a victim’s body, partially clothed, wrapped tightly in bin bags and also covered in a duvet and how the case was solved thanks to hair samples found at the crime scene.

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