Forensics Moves into the Mainstream

From Silent Witness to CSI, Forensic Science has long been a mainstay of prime time TV as the use of scientific methods to solve crimes has well and truly captured the public imagination. In the real world, Forensic Science is a discipline that extends far beyond the realm of murder mystery. It is developing in new and exciting ways that are helping to fuel economic growth.

Policymakers have been keen to highlight that innovation, particularly within STEM areas, is key to driving the economy in the 21st century. Within this, disruptive technologies that can significantly alter the way that things are done and improve productivity and the quality of outputs have a key role to play.

Forensic Science is no different and recently there have been a number of developments that have taken a more commercial focus and helped to drive the growth of industry within the sector. This is particularly important for Forensic Science, which has been affected by setbacks in recent years e.g. it is not always able to reach the standards required for court admissibility, the best known market for its services.

The scientific developments driving growth within the sector have tended to be based around establishing the authenticity of goods, not an area immediately associated with Forensic Science, but nonetheless still a key use of the techniques from biology and chemistry to detect crime. Examples include detecting fake Scottish whisky through examining isotopes within the product which offer clues as to the geographical, chemical, geological and biological provenance of the water. Other forensic techniques used to guarantee the authenticity of whisky include using an infrared spectrometer to measure that alcohol content matches that on the label and that products such as caramel colouring are not present at a higher than expected level. Forensic food finger printing techniques have also been used to uncover fraud within another key Scottish food and drink export – Loch Duart salmon. Further afield, DNA testing is also being used to verify the authenticity of Egyptian cotton and services to verify the authenticity of Manuka honey, based on the presence of methylglyoxal, have been developed.

The development of such techniques has been an important addition to the Forensic Science industry and its provision of commercial services. As well as fuelling growth within the Forensic Science sector, such technologies are also helping to grow sales of the products they are testing as they guarantee the customer authentic, high quality products. Forensic testing also means that companies within high value sectors are less likely to have sales affected by cheaper, fraudulent products.  All in all it is clear to see that Forensic Science is not just about whodunnit, it is also an adaptive and innovative discipline with an increasing focus on providing commercial services which in turn can drive  economic growth. 

For more information on our work in the Forensic Science sector please contact Richard Weaver on 0845 120 6244 or at