Miranda D & Machado H (2014) Criminal investigation and ‘forensic awareness’ – how to avoid leaving traces at a crime scene?. 14th Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology – EUROCRIM 2014, Charles University, Prague, 10.09.2014-13.09.2014. http://www.esc-eurocrim.org/index.php/conferences/previous-conferences
The presence of physical or biological traces at a crime scene allows, through forensic identification technologies, to establish the relationship between the author and the criminal act. Thus, even if the body presents itself as a tool in the execution of crime, it is also assumed as a risk factor when it comes to avoid being identified.
In this presentation we intend to explore, from a sociological perspective, the meanings attributed by individuals convicted of crime and police inspectors (Polí ia J di iária) in relation to the strategies used by criminals to avoid leaving traces, namely the protection of the body and the cleaning of crime scene. The concept of forensic awareness is important to analyse how the criminal mobilizes knowledge and experience in order to avoid being identified. Through an interpretive and qualitative methodological perspective and a set of semi-structured interviews, we seek to understand the narratives of these actors, analysing their representations regarding the use of identification technologies in criminal investigation and reflecting on risk management and body control techniques, having in mind the idea of the criminal as an
expert to avoid leaving traces in crime scenes. In the discourse of interviewed inmates and inspectors is shown the construction of a hierarchy of criminals. The "professional criminals" are differentiated from those that distance themselves from the 'criminal world', devaluing the instrumental knowledge about crime scenes and identification technologies. The expertise in the control of crime scene and the precaution to avoid leaving traces ('forensic awareness') is then associated to identity and ‘professionalism of criminal’. Criminal investigation can be associated to a
game played by inspectors and "professional criminals", with the latter learning strategies that challenge inspectors’ work. Still, inmates reveal how difficult it is to control and manage the risks, highlighting the intimidating power of DNA technologies.
criminal; forensic; investigation; police; identification;