The impact of forensic archaeology on the criminal justice system

Organiser(s); Rob Janaway, IfA Forensics SIG (R.C.Janaway [at] and Mike Groen Netherland Forensic Institute (m.groen [at]

The session will address two current themes:
1. The effect of high profile cases and media interest on the standing and practice of forensic archaeology
2. Co-operation in Europe – report back on the 1st European Forensic Archaeology meeting held in the Hague August 2012.

Management of Expectations
It is essential that police investigation contains a press strategy that includes the fact that the use of forensic archaeology and geophysics as part of a search strategy is not only to find buried objects or remains, but also to eliminate areas from the investigation with high degree of confidence. A negative result may be viewed as a positive – recently this has been successfully demonstrated by UK investigators where the emphasis was on ‘the elimination’ factor and managing the public, and media, expectations.

Using ‘approved’ Experts and/or expertise

From the high profile cases the public now expect the involvement of a forensic archaeologist in any case where the target is buried. In conjunction with the Forensic Science Regulator the IfA has established an Expert Panel List which now forms a list held by the National Policing Improvement Agency. The session will update participants of developments within forensic regulation, the evolving role of the NPIA and the newly formed National Crime Agency. It will review how effective the establishment of the list has been and what are the criteria used by police to select experts such as Forensic Archaeologists?

Developments within Europe

On the 22 August 2012, 46 attendees from 16 countries met at the Netherlands Forensic Institute at the Hague. This was a meeting jointly hosted by the Dutch NFI and the IfA Expert Panel for European forensic archaeologists or other forensic practitioners who apply forensic archaeological principles in their casework. The meeting reviewed a variety of casework and practice from different European countries. This session will report back on the content of the meeting and announce future developments regarding future European meetings.

Chartered Institute for Archaeologists
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