Meet some of the different teams who work as part of GMP's Forensic Department exploring the scientific side of policing and how our different forensic teams can assist police investigations.
Digital Forensic Investigation Unit
As the cyber world advances and improves, so does digital crime, creating a constantly changing technological landscape which our Digital Forensics Team have to adapt to and navigate as they forensically examine digital devices for evidence to support police investigations.
Members of the team are skilled in coding and programming and are able to develop specialist software and new techniques such as improved password cracking and decoding new apps that enter the market to aid the force with their criminal investigations.
Once the team have access to a device, they are able to recover evidence including photos and videos such as the below video which was recovered from a phone to prove drug charges in a recent court case.
As well as helping to catch criminals and provide evidence, the Digital Forensics Team are able to identify victims in online videos by using facial mapping techniques and ensure that safeguarding is put in place to protect them from further crime.
Forensic Imaging Unit
The Forensic Imaging Unit do a lot of work to re-create crime scenes for court cases and juries to help them better understand the case and the presented evidence.
The team can create amazing 3D images using surveillance equipment as well as 360 images using crime scene photographs to virtually walk a jury through a crime scene.
The unit are also responsible for creating e-fits which is a computer based design of a person's face based off of an eye-witness description.
An e-fit was recently created with the coroner's office after officers were unable to identify an individual who had passed away. Following the release of the e-fit, his brother recognised him and was able to identify the man to the coroner.
Once evidence has been collected from a scene, there are a number of different tests and treatments that our Forensics Services Department can conduct to reveal prints and further evidence to help identify offenders.
This includes using vaporised superglue and fluorescent dyes to reveal any prints on items that traditional powders can't pick up.
Acid staining is another technique the team can use at crime scenes. The acid shows the proteins in blood to reveal any marks or prints under a fluorescent light. Or for wet items which crime scene powder can't be used on, the team can carry out a powder suspension to reveal any prints at scenes with bad weather conditions which would otherwise be lost.
Below is a video of the Ninhydrin technique which uses chemicals which reacts with the amino acids in sweat to reveal prints on recovered objects from a scene. Years ago this process would take weeks for the results to show, however as forensic technology and science advances, the team can now use heat to reveal the prints within minutes.
Forensic Fingerprint Unit
Fingerprints are formed before birth and are completely unique to every individual even including identical twins which means they are a great way to identify individuals.
The analysts in our Fingerprint Unit are able to take prints from a crime scene and mark up the characteristics before sending them off to the national database to find any prints with similarities.
Once the similar results come back from the database, our analysts will then go through each individual print marking up ridges and patterns as they examine and analyse the prints for an exact match.
Whilst the team do a lot of work analysing prints to identify criminals in a case, they are also able to use their skills to identify deceased victims by taking objects that would have a victim's print on it and matching it up.