This week we were visited by John Smith, a senior lecturer at Westminster University’s Photography school.

John took us through the history of using photography as an evidential tool, from Alphonse Bertillion in the 1880s, who was the first proponent of using anthropological techniques to identify criminals, including what is now known as the “mugshot”, through Francis Galton, who devised a way of classifying fingerprints, to Edmond Locard, a pioneer of forensic science who formulated the principle “Every contact leaves a trace.”

He explained the various techniques that forensic science use to glean evidence from surfaces, ranging from non-destructive photographical techniques, using different light sources and wavelengths, all the way through to the more destructive techniques, such as using solvents and superglue to bring out information from seemingly clear surfaces.

The second half of the evening involved a discussion on the use of these techniques in large investigations and how they helped solve a number of large scale enquiries.

The subject matter was fascinating, and it was interesting to see how investigations actually happen outside of the glitzy representations peddled to us by the CSI franchise!

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