October 10, 2020

Forensic intelligence: How It can help to improve criminal investigation

Investigation without the application of forensic science, how far can you go?

By Avril Eyewu-Edero

In Nigeria, we experience different types of fatal criminal incidents from terrorism to murder. Nigeria, just like every other country in the world, has seen a continuous change and evolution in the tactics used to commit crimes. For an investigator or a security professional to succeed, they need to be a step ahead of the people with criminal intent.

This is why intelligence and crime analysis is important to understand crimes, their patterns, predict crimes that could occur, profile perpetrators of crimes, identify hot and vulnerable spots to help apprehend and advise organizations, and for national security.

Forensic intelligence is defined as the accurate, timely, and useful product of logically processing forensic case data.

The evolution and advancement in investigative strategies, processes, and technology has over time helped to improve intelligence gathering process, because intelligence plays an important role in the diagnosis of insecurity in a place(understand how, why, what, when, who, where) and how targeted and preventive actions can be designed (Proactive security) to counter it.

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Forensic science, evidence profile, analysis and the use of computerized databases like CODIS For DNA data or the Automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS) have been developed and they are being used in many countries to aid intelligence gathering for investigation.

With a fingerprint database system, for example, it would be easy to identify a suspect in a crime that the perpetrator is unknown.

These modern-day forensic intelligence tools can be useful in the fight against violent crimes and especially terrorism which is presently ravaging the North-Eastern part of Nigeria.

The primary purpose of crime analysis is to basically support the operations of the law enforcement agencies by providing a guide to aid a criminal investigation, arrest, prosecution, crime and loss prevention, patrol services, problem-solving and the evaluation and accountability of the law enforcement agencies work.

The introduction of technology in criminal investigation has helped in the advancement of the criminal justice system in other parts of the world, and considering the amount of crimes reported in Nigeria and our population of over 200million people, the introduction of these technologies in crime fighting would go a long way in making the country safer.

Scientific techniques and tools are used to detect crimes, used in the reconstruction of a crime scene to understand the event of the crime, to identify the alleged perpetrator and establish a connection to the scene and victim (Locard’s principle of exchange: Every contact leaves a trace), document physical evidences and determine the guilt or innocence of the alleged offender beyond a reasonable doubt.

In countries where forensic intelligence tools are effectively used for criminal investigation or proactive security practices, the effectiveness, efficiency and success of their criminal justice system has been linked to the use of these tools and technology.

Forensic science evidences such as information from a DNA database such as CODIS can be used as evidence in court for legal proceedings with almost no doubt.

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In a criminal investigation, the analytical functions of these forensic intelligence tools can be useful in detecting, preventing, and responding to different types of crimes and terrorist acts.

It can help with tactical and strategic operations when required to develop crime reports, crime bulletin, forecasting future crimes, and deducing criminal hotspots.

The analytical function of these tools can be used to develop proactive intelligence to access potential threats of criminal activities, criminal groups, and recommendations of the best possible way to address the threat.

Forensic data could be useful for forensic intelligence for investigation and national security, crime mapping, and reporting to identify threat zones, crime lab analysis, a criminal investigation, electronic presentation of evidence, and legal proceedings.

Adopting the use of forensic intelligence and crime analysis would help Nigeria battle the scourge of insecurity. It starts with a small step in the right direction.