Bournemouth University

School of Applied Sciences

Analysing evidence in murder case study

Date: 21 March 2011

Forensic science students at Bournemouth University (BU) will get a taste for real life Crime Scene Investigation as they immerse themselves in a new and unique learning tool created by academics in the School of Applied Sciences.

The murder scenario centres around the discovery of a young girl, strangled and dumped in heath land at a Dorset beauty spot. The case progresses through the police and forensic enquiry. Although entirely fictional, there is real evidence, real scenes of crime, real forensic experts and a real Detective Chief Inspector.

"The only difference is that nobody actually died," said Professor David Osselton, former Head of Toxicology for the Forensic Science Service, who now who heads up the Forensics department at BU and led the exercise. "We acted out the whole scenario, with actors playing the victim and the murderer. The story starts at the beginning when a body is found and goes right through to the conclusion with a conviction. It’s as real as you can get."

Students will analyse fibres on clothing, DNA, drugs found at the scene, crime scene photographs, witness statements, police interviews, a mobile phone and more. They will also watch news coverage and a press conference. Fictional newspapers featuring reports on the murder and investigation were also produced.

The UK’s most prestigious forensic experts have joined forces to develop this incredible learning tool, including a Home Office pathologist, a former Detective Chief Inspector and a photo-fit expert from the local police force.

One of these experts is Martyn Underhill, who worked on high profile cases, including the Sarah Payne murder enquiry. "This is a world where you can’t make mistakes," he said. "Simulation is an important learning tool. It gives students the ability to test their own judgement, learn by their mistakes, and value the actual work done by the practitioners in today's forensic world."

He continued: "It‘s impossible for students to learn on real-life murder cases, so this is the next best thing. The scenarios used at BU are the best I have seen. They professionalise forensic learning."

BU also recently held a terrorist bomb plot Crime Scene Investigation scenario at the interactive education centre Streetwise.


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