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Review

The Relationship between Research and Casework in Forensic Entomology

Department of Life Sciences, Natural History Museum, London SW7 5BD, UK
Academic Editors: Damien Charabidze and Daniel Martín-Vega
Insects 2021, 12(2), 174; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12020174
Received: 26 January 2021 / Revised: 10 February 2021 / Accepted: 10 February 2021 / Published: 17 February 2021
Forensic entomology concerns the use of insects as evidence in legal investigations. Many sorts of investigation can benefit from an interpretation of insects associated with the crime scene, but insect evidence is most frequently used in investigations of death. The interpretation of insect evidence in casework is guided by the data supplied through research. Such data are essential to improve the casework interpretation of insect evidence, thereby improving the robustness of the legal systems in which it operates. This paper explores the mutually beneficial relationship between research and casework in forensic entomology, contrasting the different challenges that each presents and giving examples of how each can support the other in delivering results of real societal benefit. It is written from the perspective of the Criminal Justice System of England and Wales, but many of the points raised are relevant to legal systems worldwide.
Research is a vital component of all forensic sciences and is often stimulated by casework, which identifies gaps in our knowledge. In such a niche area of forensic science as entomology there should be a close and mutually beneficial relationship between research and casework: to some extent there is a continuum between the two and many forensic entomologists are involved in both to a greater or lesser degree. However, research and casework involve quite differing challenges, from the replicated, highly controlled, sometimes esoteric aspects of research to the very individual, sometimes chaotic and disruptive, but highly applied aspects of casework. Ideally casework will include the full involvement of a forensic entomologist, who will collect the insect and climate evidence at the scene and produce a robust expert witness statement based on a full analysis of this data. Unfortunately, it can also include situations where samples, if collected at all, are poorly preserved, not representative of the full cadaver fauna available and presented to the entomologist months or years after the event, without local temperature data. While research is recognised through publications and their citation indices, casework and its associated expert witness statements often receive no credit in an academic workplace, although they do have a positive societal impact and many other benefits of teaching and public engagement value. This manuscript examines the relationship between research and casework from a UK perspective, to raise awareness of the need to create an environment that values the contribution of both, for future generations to flourish in both areas. View Full-Text
Keywords: casework; court; criminal justice systems; expert witness; forensic entomology; insect evidence; research casework; court; criminal justice systems; expert witness; forensic entomology; insect evidence; research
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MDPI and ACS Style

Hall, M.J.R. The Relationship between Research and Casework in Forensic Entomology. Insects 2021, 12, 174. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12020174

AMA Style

Hall MJR. The Relationship between Research and Casework in Forensic Entomology. Insects. 2021; 12(2):174. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12020174

Chicago/Turabian Style

Hall, Martin J. R. 2021. "The Relationship between Research and Casework in Forensic Entomology" Insects 12, no. 2: 174. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12020174

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