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Forensic TV shows help criminals escape police?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I've always wondered about this...

Forensic TV shows help criminals escape police?

Sep 8, 12:29 PM (ET)

LONDON (Reuters) - Television shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, depicting forensic scientists at work, are helping criminals avoid identification, New Scientist magazine said on Wednesday.

Not only are the criminals getting detailed insights into police detection methods and how to avoid them, but the shows have led juries to expect too much certainty from scientific witnesses.

"Jurors who watch CSI believe that those scenarios, where forensic scientists are always right, are really what happens,"

the magazine quoted forensic sedimentologist Peter Bull from Oxford University as saying.

His view was echoed by Jim Fraser, director of the Center for Forensic Studies at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland. He said the CSI effect had placed extra burdens on the painstaking work of the forensic scientists.

"Oversimplification of interpretations on CSI has led to false expectations, especially about the speed of delivery of forensic evidence," he told the magazine.

Shows which pride themselves on closely following real police practice are giving criminals valuable tips.

"People are forensically aware," said Guy Rutty from the Forensic Pathology unit at Leicester University.

Burglars were wearing gloves during break-ins and rapists were using condoms to avoid leaving DNA evidence.

Car thieves had even taken to leaving cigarette butts from bins in stolen cars to muddy the forensic trail.

"Suddenly the police have 20 potential people in the car," Rutty said.
post #2 of 9
I've often thought this before.
You really could plan the perfect murder...
Well, not me..
post #3 of 9
I find this a little hard to believe. Well actually I don't know why, people can be rather...how should I put this?...dumb sometimes.

News flash it's a TV show, a TV series at that...you know fiction. Just because Superman can fly on the TV doesn't mean there is a man running out flying through the air and fighting crime in real life.

It scares me the quality of people they allow on the jury if they actually believe this is true.

Now as far as the criminal learning things goes...I would say if they had the sense God gave a Gnat they would have figured these things out already. I would think the average person realizes that DNA can be used to track you down but then I've already over estimate the reasonablity of the average person I suppose as the article pointed out with the jury thing.

edited because I can't spell.
post #4 of 9
Those shows, while entertaining, really are screwing up things when it comes to investigations.
I've had rape clients who get really frustrated with how long the investigation process seemingly takes (because that's not how long it takes on TV). Shows like CSI lead you to believe that a DNA test can be done in a day, when in reality it can take 6 months to a year. Completely rediculous .
post #5 of 9
csi and those lame shows screw with peoples minds. its all about new detectives and the fbi files..now THOSE..some real cases..real stuff..is that i like..i have never watched CSI even tho im a reader of serial murder/real crime books...lol
post #6 of 9
I have to say i just shake my head when I read this stuff. first of all..to take from the article. they are saying people breaking in are wearing gloves, and rapists have been useing condoms for sometime before all these forensic shows. And anyone one takes TV as gospel shouldnt be on a jury. I watch those shows regularly. but i know darn well its just TV
post #7 of 9
It is entertainment not scientific fact, tempest in a teapot!
post #8 of 9
IMO, a big part of the problem is that in general people are woefully undereducated scientifically. As a research scientist, I admit that a good part is due to the scientific community's inability to adequately explain what we do to the general public. But I believe that if most people had a decent backing in science they would realize that what is shown on TV cop shows is not a realistic portrayal of real life.

Originally Posted by GrayKittenLove
It scares me the quality of people they allow on the jury if they actually believe this is true.
Actually, I think its quite common in jury selection to *remove* any candidates who have a strong scientific background. I personally know of two people who were rejected as jurors because they were persuing graduate degrees in scientific fields. Lawyers would rather have people who rely on the testimony of "experts" than people who can question the evidence for themselves.
post #9 of 9
I, for one, am completely addicted to CSI, but forensic pathology FASCINATES me and has since I took this one AP psych class in high school dealing with forensics.

People will always think of new and disturbing ways to commit crimes, and investigators will always be one step behind them with new technology and methods. Shows like CSI only offer a glimpse into the work that gets done and the methods that are used. These shows are for entertainment and should be taken with a grain of salt.
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