Forensic Fraud: Evaluating Law Enforcement and Forensic Science Cultures in the Context of Examiner Misconduct

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Forensic Fraud is a timely work that examines the problem of forensic fraud both theoretically and empirically, assessing the relationships among examiner, workplace, evidentiary, and impact variables.

Unvalidated or improper forensic science is a leading cause of wrongful convictions. In more than 50% of the DNA exonerations nationwide, unvalidated or improper forensic science contributed to the underlying wrongful conviction.

These problems include forensic techniques that have not been subjected to rigorous scientific evaluation (such as hair microscopy, bite mark comparisons, firearm tool mark analysis and shoe print comparisons); testing that is improperly conducted or analysis that is not accurate (regardless of whether the forensic technique involved is validated); and forensic misconduct (such as fabricated test results and misleading testimony).

Forensic Fraud is written by a forensic scientist for the forensic science community, rather than by legal scholars or practitioners, as has been the trend.

  • Responds directly to the dramatic increase in forensic fraud related laboratory scandals and closures that have plagued the forensic science community
  • Offers realistic recommendations and reforms
  • Ideally suited for forensic science professionals, legal practitioners, laboratory supervisors, forensic science students and academicians
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The enabling conditions and motivations behind forensic fraud are presented, with the argument that systematic incompatibilities between law enforcement culture and scientific culture are largely to blame, along with institutional negligence, rather than unavoidable ‘bad apple’ outliers."—Reference & Research Book News, October 2013

Forensic science involves the systematic analysis of materials, information and data from different sources with a view to determining facts or an evidence-based conclusion.

Fictional portrayal of forensic science by Sherlock Holmes and popular television dramas such as Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) has nurtured public interest. However, there is growing evidence of miscarriage of justice based on misleading forensic evidence. Corruption and fraud in forensic activity can have distortive effects on the truth and devastating impacts such as destroying the lives of innocent defendants, the careers of the forensic examiners involved and the costs of retesting evidence. Evidence endorsed by “expert opinion” carries an implicit assumption that it is a credible reflection of findings. This book sheds light on FRAUD, a recognised but poorly investigated aspect of forensic science.

Each chapter starts with an interesting quote from literature, forensic scientists and even Shakespeare. The chapters are well illustrated with real cases demonstrating the impact and consequences of fraud. Chapters conclude with summary points.

The layout and colour differentiation of the book allows for easy reading.

The introductory chapter gives a background to forensic fraud across practice settings with a predominantly American historical context. Definitions of terms, like scientific misconduct, forensic examiners, forensic fraud, perjury and “ghost authorship” ensure readers are grounded in the principles of the book. Fraud is a dark topic in the forensic community with complex interplay of motivations and consequences. The author states, “anyone can commit a fraud”, therefore likely perpetrators are difficult to predict.

In the second chapter, Occupational Fraud is explored using the triangle of “opportunity, pressure and rationalisation” recognising that organisational cultures may be behind fraud. Readers are reminded fraud is distinct from error and negligence by virtue of intent. The wide variability across forensic science disciplines and practice with regards to methodologies, techniques, reliability, and the types and numbers of potential sources of error are acknowledged. In some areas, there are no “gold standard” forensic methods and there may be competing cultures between scientists and law enforcement agencies.

The chapter on Fraud and Scientific Culture, opens with the quote “The scientific endeavour is based on vigilance, not trust” which summarises aptly core Popperian theories. Readers are introduced to differences between falsification, fabrication, plagiarism and research misconduct. Prevalence of these issues are concluded as much higher than often reported and just the “tip of the iceberg”.

The differences and similarities between the values and cultures of forensic scientists and law enforcement agencies are explored with the “bad apple” hypothesis challenged. Readers are also introduced to the inherent loyalty challenges experienced by scientists embedded in law enforcement agencies struggling to conform to institutional cultures. This includes committing, tolerating, concealing or defending acts of overt misconduct - often for years. While there is a dearth of data on the actual frequency of forensic fraud, a series of case studies and reports shed light on the ease in which this can permeate forensic culture.

In chapter 8, data from 2000 to 2010 are also presented to buttress the point and qualitative sources from courts, agencies, print and electronic media considered other than solely published peer literature. While the data tables and charts could be better presented, they only slightly detract from the core information. The subsequent chapter presents more detailed multivariate analysis of the preceding one and may be found over inclusive to the less data analytic reader. The sample size is small and there are numerous limitations to the study cited which are instructive.

In concluding, the author suggests some useful reforms to the recruitment process, education, organisational culture, and understanding of role conflict in forensic science. These suggestions would also benefit new services. The book ends with a rich collection of case studies, which encourage readers to think analytically about contexts of fraud. The book is well indexed and references are current and usefully include web-based material.

While this book has a predominantly American slant, the lessons are rich and transferable to western and less industrialised or less forensically developed countries. It can be argued that the book actually sets a governance framework for developing forensic organisations globally. Apart from the forensic community, historians, scientific researchers, expert witnesses, organisational behaviour specialists and psychologists and occupational health practitioners may also find this an important reference text on their shelves. -Grace Y. Edozien, MRCGP, MFFLM Forensic Physician, St Mary's Sexual Assault Referral Centre

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780124080737
  • Publisher: Elsevier Science
  • Publication date: 6/15/2013
  • Pages: 296
  • Sales rank: 1,478,423
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Brent E. Turvey spent his first years in college on a pre-med track only to change his course of study once his true interests took hold. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Portland State University in Psychology, with an emphasis on Forensic Psychology, and an additional Bachelor of Science degree in History. He went on to receive his Masters of Science in Forensic Science after studying at the University of New Haven, in West Haven, Connecticut.

Since graduating in 1996, Brent has consulted with many agencies, attorneys, and police departments in the United States, Australia, China, Canada, Barbados and Korea on a range of rapes, homicides, and serial/ multiple rape/ death cases, as a forensic scientist and criminal profiler. He has also been court qualified as an expert in the areas of criminal profiling, forensic science, victimology, and crime reconstruction. In August of 2002, he was invited by the Chinese People's Police Security University (CPPSU) in Beijing to lecture before groups of detectives at the Beijing, Wuhan, Hanzou, and Shanghai police bureaus. In 2005, he was invited back to China again, to lecture at the CPPSU, and to the police in Beijing and Xian - after the translation of the 2nd edition of his text into Chinese for the University. In 2007, he was invited to lecture at the 1st Behavioral Sciences Conference at the Home Team (Police) Academy in Singapore, where he also provided training to their Behavioral Science Unit. In 2012 Brent completed his PhD in Criminology from Bond University in Gold Coast, Australia.

He is the author of Criminal Profiling: An Introduction to Behavioral Evidence Analysis, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Editions (1999, 2002, 2008, 2011); co- author of the Rape Investigation Handbook, 1st and 2nd Editions (2004, 2011), Crime Reconstruction 1st and 2nd Editions (2006, 2011), Forensic Victimology (2008) and Forensic Fraud (2013) - all with Elsevier Science. He is currently a full partner, Forensic Scientist, Criminal Profiler, and Instructor with Forensic Solutions, LLC, and an Adjunct Professor of Justice Studies at Oklahoma City University. He can be contacted via email at:

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 – Introduction

Chapter 2 – Forensic Fraud & Occupational Fraud

Chapter 3 – Forensic Science: A Primer

Chapter 4 – Fraud and Law Enforcement Culture

Chapter 5 – Fraud and Scientific Culture

Chapter 6 – Scientific Integrity & Law Enforcement Culture: A Contrast

Chapter 7 – Forensic Fraud: Research Efforts to Date

Chapter 8 – Forensic Fraud, 2000-2010: A Study

Chapter 9 – Multivariate Analysis of Forensic Fraud Cases

Chapter 10 – Conclusions and Recommendations

Chapter 11 – Recent Scandals (2011-2012): An Update and Discussion


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