Due to its connections to violent crime and ingenious detective work, forensic science is a subject of endless fascination to the general public. A criminal case can often hinge on a piece of evidence such as a hair, a blood trace, a bit of saliva on a cigarette butt, or the telltale mark of a tire tread. High profile cases have stoked this interest in recent years and some of the most popular shows on television – such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its raft of spin-offs – attest to the enduring popularity of forensic science as a form of grisly entertainment.
This Very Short Introduction looks at the nature of forensic science, examining what forensic science is, how it is used in the investigation of crime, how crime scenes are managed, how forensic scientists work, the different techniques used to recover evidence, and the range of methods available for analysis. It also considers how forensic science serves the criminal justice system and the challenges of communicating complex scientific evidence in a court of law.