Forensic Scientist

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    Forensic scientists use analytical and scientific techniques to examine evidence from crimes and prepare legal statements that summarize the results for court cases.

    As a forensic scientist you’ll provide impartial scientific evidence for use in courts of law to support the prosecution or defence in criminal and civil investigations.

    You’ll be primarily concerned with searching for and examining contact trace material associated with crimes. This material can include:

    • blood and other body fluids
    • hairs
    • fibres from clothing
    • paint and glass fragments
    • tyre marks
    • flammable substances used to start fires.

    The work usually involves:

    • chemistry – the examination of substances such as paint or chemicals, including fire investigation and accident reconstruction
    • biology – DNA testing and the examination of minute contact traces, such as blood, hair and clothing fibres
    • drugs and toxicology – testing for restricted drugs, examining tissue specimens for poison detection, and the analysis of blood and urine samples for alcohol, for example in drink driving offences.

     

    Employers of Forensic Scientist

    • forensic science units within local police forces
    • government departments
    • commercial companies that provide forensic science services to the police and other agencies

     

    Duties

    • searching for and collecting evidence at the scenes of crimes
    • compiling written reports
    • gathering evidence
    • verifying the authenticity of documents
    • testing fluid and tissue samples for the use of drugs or poisons
    • analysing tool and tyre marks
    • giving and defending evidence in court
    • recovering data from electronic equipment such as laptops, computers and mobile phones
    • using appropriate analytical techniques such as chromatography, electron microscopy and DNA profiling

     

    Qualifications

    To become a forensic scientist, a degree in forensic science or another science subject is necessary. Postgraduate study in forensic science is often required, especially after studying a general science subject at undergraduate level.

    Degree subjects such as statistics and geology can be useful for entry into specialist areas of forensic science.

     

    Skills

    • the capacity to undertake fine, analytical, painstaking work with exceptional attention to detail
    • a logical, unbiased and methodical approach to problem solving
    • a persistent approach and enquiring mind
    • the ability to work well in a team, as well as independently
    • strong written and oral communication skills and the ability to communicate scientific information to non-experts
    • the ability to work to deadlines.

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