CSI-CSI: Comparing several investigative approaches toward crime scene improvement

Anna S. Knes, Madeleine de Gruijter, Matthijs C. Zuidberg, Christianne J. de Poot

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Crime scene investigations are highly complex environments that require the CSI to engage in complex decision-making. CSIs must rely on personal experience, context information, and scientific knowledge about the fundamental principles of forensic science to both find and correctly interpret ambiguous traces and accurately reconstruct a scene. Differences in CSI decision making can arise in multiple stages of a crime scene investigation. Given its crucial role in forensic investigation, CSI decision-making must be further studied to understand how differences may arise during the stages of a crime scene investigation. The following exploratory research project is a first step at comparing how crime scene investigations of violent robberies are conducted between 25 crime scene investigators from nine countries across the world.

Through a mock crime scene and semi-structured interview, we observed that CSIs have adopted a variety of investigation approaches. The results show that CSIs have different working strategies and make different decisions when it comes to the construction of relevant hypotheses, their search strategy, and the collection of traces. These different decisions may, amongst other factors, be due to the use of prior information, a CSI’s knowledge and experience, and the perceived goal of their investigation. We suggest the development of more practical guidelines to aid CSIs through a hypothetico-deductive reasoning process, where (a) CSIs are supported in the correct use of contextual information, (b) outside knowledge and expertise are integrated into this process, and (c) CSIs are guided in the evaluation of the utility of their traces.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-72
JournalScience & Justice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


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