Handbook will give police tips to ensure they don't overlook small but important clues
In what will go a long way in nailing suspects in the course of an investigation, a forensic expert has decided to pen a handbook for the police which will spell out broad guidelines about preserving evidence at a crime scene.
The guru: Arun Bhoi, a forensic expert who retired as assistant director of Ballistics Department, Forensic Science Laboratory, Kalina, Mumbai. Pic/Krunal Gosavi
Forensic expert Arun Bhoi says the police generally overlook minor but important precautions related to searching and collecting evidence, which can often turn the entire tide of the investigation. The handbook, which will be written in Marathi, will be published in another four months. Bhoi retired as an assistant director of Ballistics Department, Forensic Science Laboratory at Kalina in Mumbai, in May 2009.
With 30 years of forensic study under his belt, Bhoi says that lack of awareness about crime scene examination leads to potential evidence unknowingly getting either destroyed or ignored. "Apart from destruction of evidence, I have also corrected certain time-consuming methods of collecting forensic proof, which hold up investigations," he said.
Talking about one such method, Bhoi said that searching for spent cartridges during firing can be hastened by the 'parallel strips' method. "At an 'outdoor crime scene', cops scourge the entire field or the ground, which makes the search laborious. Instead, the patch of land can be demarcated with vertical columns, which will narrow down the scope of the search, and save time," said Bhoi.
"After entering a room where a crime has taken place, there are 'clockwise' and 'anti-clockwise' methods of searching for clues. This is an important part of 'evidence collection' since the samples itself are gathered in a systematic manner, which will make latter re-examination more simple, even if they were inconclusive initially," he said.
It has been observed that the police often have to start from square one, and re-examine collected samples, when an investigation reaches a dead end. Talking about one such case Bhoi said that the police accidentally destroyed footprints in a room where a murder had taken place by allowing the entire posse of cops inside the living room. "Moreover, we were called late as well, which made the investigation more difficult," he said. Bhoi's book will contain information about all crimes and forensic categories ranging from ballistics, biology, explosives, toxicology, narcotics, adulteration, lie detecting, murder, rape and forgery.
"I have dedicated an entire chapter to explosives in view of the current spate of terror attacks. There are pointers about collecting samples after a bomb blast along with detailed explanations about various explosives like improvised explosive devices (IDE). The book will be lucidly written and can be used by citizens and police alike," said Bhoi.
Police reaction A city police official said that implementing Arun Bhoi's techniques at a crime scene is impractical because of the tense activity. "The methods are no doubt effective, but the frenzy at a crime scene cannot allow such a methodical approach. Senior police officials, politicians and the media throng blast scenes, and the cops become more engaged in controlling the crowd. Plus, unlike western countries, forensic science is not looked at as a serious area of study and is thus underdeveloped. Their police have a dedicated van carrying forensic experts accompanying them at every scene whereas here they are called in only when required," said the police officer.