Forensic Science LIMS | Crime Scenes to Forensic Science Laboratories | Understanding it's Role and Applications

This article explores the key elements of linking crime scenes to forensic science laboratories and the role of (LIMS) Laboratory information management system

CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION

Shubham Kumar

1/28/20243 min read

To facilitate effective collaboration, crime scene investigation facilities must establish a data link with forensic science laboratories. This connection should include standardized information formats, such as barcoding for each item, initiating the 'chain of custody,' recording item significance, necessary analyses, and an examination request form. The seamless integration of crime scene investigation facilities with forensic science laboratories is essential for effective information management. This article explores the key elements of linking crime scenes to forensic science laboratories and the role of (LIMS) Laboratory information management systems.

Understanding Forensic Science LIMS

The dynamics of forensic science laboratory information management system (LIMS) holds prominent grounds in the crime scene management. The LIMS can be understood in two parts. First one if modular software and second one is comprehensive examination modules.

Modular Software for Forensic Labs

Forensic Science Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) should be modular, LAN-based software designed for use by forensic laboratories. The key components of this type of system would be:

  • case management,

  • evidence tracking,

  • examination/analysis processing.

Through the use of standard bar codes, all evidence would be tracked from the moment it is collected at the crime scene through to entering the forensic science laboratory (FSL) until it either leaves the FSL or is destroyed. This provides an auditable chain-of-custody for all potential evidentiary items.

Comprehensive Examination Modules

Examination processing modules are crucial for both crime scene investigation and laboratory disciplines. This article emphasizes the importance of modules for various forensic disciplines, such as chemistry, biology (DNA), toxicology, drugs of abuse, fingerprints, physical comparisons (physical fits, footwear, tyre tracks, mechanical failure, light globe for "on" or "off" interpretation, and toolmarks), questioned documents, and ballistics. Management reports should be able to be produced from a variety of templates or tailored to a given laboratory's specification.

Core System Functionality of LIMS

The core system should be the central component of any forensic science LIMS program. It should consist of three major areas of functionality: case management, evidence tracking, and administration. These are further described below,

Case Management

Cases are initiated based on an attendance at the crime scene by crime scene investigators who would identify, select, and record evidence and further make the request through the forensic science LIMS system for examination/s and/or analyses based on the type of potential evidence recovered. Basic information required in the system would be:

  • Crime scene investigator

  • Date, time, and place of the crime scene investigation

  • Investigating officer

  • Police station/district

  • Items of evidence with attached unique bar code numbers

  • Types of examination/analysis requested of each item.

On lodging the exhibits, the liaison officer would identify each discipline within the laboratory and the name of the individual supervising scientist for the area. There should be some type of alert system that informs the supervising scientist of the fact that a case has arrived and is awaiting his/her discipline's attention.

The case would then be tracked through each discipline with the individual analyst being required to report on his/her examination/analysis through to the return of the items to the liaison officer. It is then the liaison officer's responsibility to dispose of the exhibits through destruction, return to investigating police, or the transfer to court. The case management feature should provide workload monitoring and the ability to create, assign, re-assign, and remove cases.

Quality Assurance

There should be a quality assurance feature, which provides for both administrative and technical peer reviews of examination processes. This assists the forensic science laboratory, including a crime scene investigation facility, in satisfying this criterion within a forensic science laboratory accreditation program, as well as contributing to the maintenance of high standards.

Crime Scene Investigation Protocols of LIMS

One of the main dynamics of crime scene management by the LIMS lands its grounds in the providing the robust protocols for crime scene investigation. These are discussed below:

Initiating and Managing Cases

This section outlines the crucial aspects of case management during crime scene investigations. It covers the initiation of cases, tracking evidence through various disciplines, and the responsibility of liaison officers. Quality assurance features, administrative and technical peer reviews, contribute to maintaining high standards in forensic laboratories.

Crime Scene Investigation Dynamics

Responsibilities, training, and qualifications of crime scene investigators are explored. The article emphasizes the importance of a methodical and thorough approach, including the roles of 'crime scene manager' and 'crime scene coordinator' in ensuring a successful investigation.

Crime Scene Assessment Process of LIMS

The effective interrogation in crime scene investigation facilities the smoothness in management and uncover the telltale from the mysterious aspects. LIMS holds prominent grounds in guiding the assessment process in crime scene management. These are carried out via:

Asking Critical Questions

The process of assessing crime scenes involves asking fundamental questions: Who? What? When? Where? How? and Why? This article delves into the significance of these questions and their application in determining the necessary resources for a forensic investigation.

Systematic Examination and Documentation

Prioritizing evidence collection based on potential destruction, critical areas, and quick identification of suspects is crucial. The article discusses the systematic approach to examination, documentation, and note-taking, emphasizing the importance of comprehensive records for future reference.

Reference

  • "Forensic DNA Typing" by John M. Butler

  • "The Forensic Casebook: The Science of Crime Scene Investigation" by Ngaire E. Genge

  • "Forensic Science: A Very Short Introduction" by Jim Fraser

  • "Practical Crime Scene Processing and Investigation" by Ross M. Gardner