Monday, September 20, 2004

Home Can be a Killer

AUSTRALIA: Northern Territory News: ALMOST half of the homicide victims in the Territory are killed by their partners. NT Police's Major Organised Crime Detective Superintendent Colleen Gwynne said 17 people were killed in homicides in the NT in the 2002-2003 financial year. Seven, or 41 per cent, of the homicide victims were in an intimate or domestic relationship with their killers.
A further six (35 per cent) were related to each other and four (24 per cent) were friends of or unknown to their killers. The figures mirror the national experience where, on average, 129 family homicides occur each year. Of those, 77 were related to domestic disputes, records at the Australian Institute of Criminology show.
Det Supt Gwynne said 88 per cent of homicide offenders were male and 41 per cent of victims were male. She said while there had been a 48 per cent drop in the number of homicides between 2002-2003 and the last financial year, she was confident the same percentage was domestic violence related.
``Our rate of homicide victimisation has been consistently greater than the national average,'' Det Supt Gwynne said. ``You'd have to say that really 50 per cent of these homicides (in 2002-2003) were domestic violence related and that's substantial.
``Domestic violence is an extremely important issue because ... quite often a domestic incident can lead to death.'' Det Supt Gwynne said police regarded domestic violence as a major crime.
``That is a message to the community that we feel domestic violence investigations are extremely important and deserve police resources.''
Det Supt Gwynne said being sent to a crime scene where a homicide has been related to domestic violence was frustrating for police. ``When we are sent to do an investigation of a domestic violence incident you think `we could've prevented this','' she said.
She urged Territorians to help report domestic violence.
``Don't turn a blind eye to this when you know it is happening,'' she said. Police dealt with 2668 reports of domestic violence in the 2002-2003 financial year. Of those, 445 were in Darwin, 1162 in Casuarina, 715 in Palmerston, 162 at Alice Springs and 184 elsewhere.
This report appears on

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Criminology Student Arrested for Robbery-Extortion.

Philippines: A Masteral student in Criminology was arrested in a police entrapment operation after he allegedly threatened to kill the whole family of a local businesswoman if he was not paid an amount of P1.5-million in exchange for their lives.
This reportedly resulted after the suspect allegedly broke into the house of the family and robbed them of about P245,000 in assorted jewelry, cameras, wristwatches and a complete computer unit about two weeks earlier.
Supt. Ernesto Gaab, officer-in-charge of the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO), identified the suspect in the two cases as Carlito Naces Ganagana Jr., 27, married, a Masters in Criminology student in a local university, who resides at 132 Poblacion, Botogue Laoac, Pangasinan.
Although the suspect claimed to be a resident of Balsigan, police found out later that he does not really go home there.
His reported victim in both incidents was only named as Deborah Cainto, a resident of Ferguson Road. (Hmm..was he trying to give criminology a bad name.)
Initial investigation of the robbery case disclosed that Ganagana allegedly entered the house of Cainto at around 3p.m. of August 25 and carted away assorted pieces of jewelry, a computer central processing unit with monitor and keyboard, one Olympus camera, a Canon A-1 camera with accessories, a General Electric speakerphone, and a number of wristwatches with Omega, Fendi, Seiko, Swatch and other brands. These all reportedly amount to approximately P245,000.
"On September 8, the victim received a threatening texted message on her cellular telephone saying that physical harm will come to her family unless she will cough up P1-million in exchange for their security," Gaab said.
"However, when Mrs. Cainto refused to give in to the demand, a follow-up call from the same texter was received and the demand was raised to P1.5-million. She lost no time and reported her predicament to our office."
Two police officers were detailed to the victim's family for security assistance even as BCPO personnel also formulated a plan to conduct an entrapment operation if and when a pay-off would be made.
After a series of negotiations were made the next three days between the victim and the extortion-robbery suspect, who was still unidentified at that time, they finally agreed to schedule the delivery of the bargained amount of P850,000 inside one of the numerous bus terminals along Gov. Pack Road on September 11.
At around 10 p.m. of that day, an undercover policewoman of the BCPO Women & Children Concerns Section dropped off the package of marked 'boodle' money inside a garbage bin situated inside the Amianan Bus terminal, where plainclothes operatives of the BCPO Intelligence and Investigation Branch and BCPO Station 3 strategically posted themselves earlier.
As agreed, the suspect showed up and took the marked money from inside the said garbage bin, signaling the posted police operatives to swoop down and arrest him.
After Ganagana's arrest, the marked money and a Nokia 3315 cellphone, which was used in the three-day negotiation was recovered from his possession.
Ganagana was detained later at the Baguio City Jail on charges of alleged robbery with intimidation and robbery-extortion.
By Ernie N. Olson Jr.(From Sun Star Network Online - Philippines)

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Do's and Don'ts of Forensic Computer Investigations

John Colbert's Forensics Guidelines for IT Staff
The IT professional should consider these seven guidelines when requested to conduct a computer investigation or legal discovery request:
1. Ask questions: Inquire as to the nature of the request. The more you know about the investigation, the more effective your fact-finding will be. Ensure that you are fully aware of the intentions of management: What decisions will management need to make based upon your findings? What are the confidentiality concerns? What are the time concerns, and how should time constraints be balanced against the thoroughness of the investigations? How do they want you to report your findings?
2. Document thoroughly: No matter how simple the request from management, write it down—even if you're not sure if you will perform that aspect of work. Recognize that when working for legal counsel, the communications and findings to counsel are usually protected under the attorney-client privilege, which includes your notes and e-mail. However, this privilege may be lost if your chain of command or communication strays from legal counsel.
Click here for a list of links to information on U.S. law-enforcement technology.
3. Operate in good faith: Generally, you should follow instructions from management in the course of an investigation. However, it is possible that some investigative actions could be illegal. For instance, reverse hacking or "hack back" tactics could be a violation of law. Seizing or copying the computer of a non-employee third party could also be illegal. It is important to raise such concerns with management should they arise.
4. Don't get in over your head: Investigations are sexy, challenging and fun, but the environment that surrounds them can quickly become unfamiliar and outside your area of expertise. If any of the following conditions are true—or become true during an ongoing investigation—the organization will need to make a crucial determination as to whether to retain a professional computer forensic investigator or contact law enforcement:
The investigation involves a crime. Fraud, theft, hacking, threats, certain types of harassment. It is acceptable—and often good practice—for an organization to be the first responder, but when the commission of a crime is readily apparent, it is advisable to contact law enforcement. The investigation will likely result in serious discipline or termination of an employee. It is often advisable to have an outside consultant to provide court testimony or prepare critical investigation reports to be relied upon by senior management or outside auditors. The investigation requires that documents are prepared for court or a government investigative body. A legal discovery request may be required for civil lawsuits or during events such as mergers and acquisitions. This also includes requests for information from the Securities Exchange Commission for public companies. Large-scale investigations—investigations that cross many different boundaries, and people—should be conducted by experienced investigators.5. Make the decision to investigate: Before moving any further forward, you should consider that an investigation of an employee should involve your HR department. They are experts on employee law and can be very helpful. Rest assured they would be very interested. If you are now comfortable that you can go forward in good faith, then do so. Here are a few situations that you may encounter:
Worms, viruses and hacks. These problems are usually detected by employees and IT personnel. Unauthorized use of applications, software or Internet. These policy infractions are normally associated with minor discipline, though, in some circumstances they can result in termination. Be sure to evaluate the discipline level before going forward. Unauthorized use of e-mail. These investigations normally originate from a complaint. Be sure to analyze the intent of HR and/or management regarding discipline and remember the points made above.6. Treat everything as confidential: Regardless of who knows—or the rumors that surface—keep all information confidential and only disclose the information to those who need to know.
7. File it: Keep your documentation and file it. It's a good idea to have the information maintained by HR or legal, but be sure to file it in an organized manner regardless.
Those are the seven guidelines created by Colbert to help IT managers and staffs stay out of trouble when asked to conduct in investigation.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Post Mortem Drug Tests 'Flawed'

Experts have raised concerns that flawed analysis of drug levels in corpses could affect the outcomes of court cases and inquests. The international team writing in the British Medical Journal says this leads to confusion and conspiracy theories.
They cite the death of weapons expert David Kelly as a high profile case where differences of opinion have been expressed over drug results.
However, they say there is no dispute over Mr Kelly's cause of death.
The comments of the experts from the International Toxicology Advisory Group show renewed concern over how such results are interpreted in countries around the world. In March, US and UK experts warned the level of drugs in the blood can increase by 15-fold when someone dies because the toxins are released into the bloodstream.
In the BMJ editorial, the forensic medicine experts warn problems can arise because, unlike in cases involving living patients, toxicology tests after death can virtually never be informed by information about how drugs were administered and number of doses taken.
In addition, if a person has been a chronic drug user, and has developed a 'tolerance', it can be factored into toxicology measurements for living patients but cannot be measured in dead bodies.
But the experts warn that, despite these concerns, in some cases conclusions continue to be drawn based on comparisons with living subjects, or by looking at measurements alone, without examining the case as a whole.
They warn such specific measurements are not an accurate guide because factors in individual cases can affect how they should be interpreted.
Derrick Pounder, Professor of Forensic Medicine at Dundee University. one of the authors of the editorial, said: "This is a chronic problem in forensic medicine.
"We know full well that the results of the analysis of drug tests are very difficult to interpret. The drug level in itself is no use. It has to be interpreted in the context of the case."
But he said: "Some individuals still persist in interpreting these results in a very rigid way."
Court evidence
The experts also warn that blood drug concentration levels can vary significantly in dead bodies depending on where the sample is collected from.
Professor Robert Forrest of the University of Sheffield, who is also part of the group which wrote the editorial, said: "For example, a lot of antidepressants, such as amytripiline, are bound to lung tissue.
"So if an old lady was found dead and a sample of heart blood was analysed, the drug concentration level might be 3.5 milligrams per litre. The interpretation of that would be that she'd taken an overdose.
"But if the sample was taken from the femoral vein in her groin, it might have a concentration of 0.35 milligrams per litre, which is entirely consistent with normal therapeutic use."
He and his colleagues warn that, if drug levels at the time of death are impossible to determine, pathologists cannot make judgements on the amount of drugs taken into the body before death.
However these projections are often produced in court as evidence.
Professor John Foster, chairman of the Royal College of Pathology's toxicology science advisory committee, said: "The science underpinning the extrapolation of results is not there.
"Most professionals would acknowledge the problem. But they can perhaps be pushed by the legal profession to go a little bit further than they should be going."
He added: "The underlying message in the article is a call for more honesty in describing the limitations inherent in the science as it exists today .
"These limitations demand a more rigorous approach to extrapolating data obtained from dead bodies until the effect that the death process has on drug concentrations can be better characterised and defined."
(Story from BBC NEWS)

Thursday, September 16, 2004

E-crime: Call for a United Front

Shane McKenzie is looking online for stories of e-crime. Photo: Rodger Cummins Cyber criminals could be slipping through the fingers of investigators due to a lack of co-operation between police and corporate cyber sleuths, warns an e-crime researcher. Quick police access to privately owned infrastructure in order to chase online felons is just one issue still to be resolved, says Shane McKenzie. A University of Melbourne criminology lecturer, McKenzie is writing his PhD on e-crime investigative partnerships between the private sector and law enforcement. "A lack of co-operation between the sectors can actually mean loss of evidence or a dead-end for your investigation," he says. "The private sector and law enforcement are both saying, 'we have to work together in partnership', but what does that mean and what are the implications of that? "Do we need new laws to deal with how these investigators work together? Do we need changes in laws so that companies are able to collect data in the off-chance of a crime occurring in the future - these are some of the issues I'm examining." McKenzie has been preparing his research for two years, working closely with Victoria Police's major fraud investigation division and computer crime squad. He is also a lecturer in the new graduate certificate in e-crime investigation, taught jointly by Melbourne University Private and Victoria Police. Stereotypes - for example, that private-sector investigators only worry about the bottom line and corporate image - are breaking down, McKenzie says, as are those that police are just out to "catch the crooks" and don't care about company reputations or shareholders' interests. McKenzie is conducting an anonymous online survey looking at the impact and extent of e-crime - from identity, credit card and online auction fraud to virus infections and online sex offenders. "The problem is out there but you don't know the scope and the size of it and how many people it's actually affecting or what's the actual cost to them," McKenzie says. "I'm interested in having responses from the whole range of the community, all industry sectors and all levels of an organisation, not just senior management of the big corporations. "Ideally, every investigator in Victoria will put their hand up and say, 'I have a story to tell about how I work, day to day'." Visit the research site of Shane McKenzie

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Crime is down, but why? (Guest Editorial of The Desert Dispatch)

The National Crime Victimization Survey released Sunday shows that both property crimes and violent crimes other than homicide were again at a 30-year low in 2003. That is good news for all.
What is frustrating is that while plenty of people have theories about why crime rates go up or down, most of the theories are full of exceptions and the links between cause and effect vary in directness and intensity.
The lesson for citizens is that most of those attempting to take credit for reduced crime rates had little or nothing to do with it. And those who claim to hold the key to reducing crime further are probably talking through their hats.
Gilbert Geis, professor emeritus in criminology, law and society at UC Irvine, said the Victimization Survey, done by the Department of Justice, is generally more reliable than the FBI crime survey, because it is based on interviews and relatively uniform criteria, and so captures crimes that are not reported to the police.
The best general indicator is homicide (which has declined nationally since 1993 as well), because most dead bodies come to the attention of the police and can be counted fairly accurately.
As to why crime has declined steadily since 1993, most criminologists are more in the dark than they like to let on.
There's the demographic theory, that most crimes are committed by young men aged 18-24 and the tendency to commit crime declines as people get older. But the percentage of people in that age group hasn't declined dramatically over the past 120 years.
There's the economic theory, that crime declines when the economy improves. But the U.S. has had a stock market bubble burst and a mild recession in the last few years, and the crime rate has continued to decline. Professor Geis told us that in some cases, increased unemployment actually means closer supervision for young people who might be crime-prone, because a parent is at home. But he acknowledges that the data are not conclusive.
There's virtually no evidence that tougher gun-control laws reduce crime (and some evidence the other way). And, in fact, we haven't seen progressively tougher gun control laws over the last 10 years; the two sides have been more or less at a stalemate.
That leaves stiffer sentencing laws. Mr. Geis believes there is some evidence that tougher sentencing laws do keep some people who would be committing crimes off the streets for extended periods. But it is an expensive way to go and keeps people who wouldn't be committing new crimes locked up as well.
Perhaps we don't have to understand all the whys to be grateful crime has declined.
But even as we encourage experts to keep trying to find the reasons, we should be skeptical of those who claim they have already discovered them.From Desert Dispatch.
The Desert Dispatch is a daily newspaper serving the communities of Barstow, Dagget, Fort Irwin, Hinkley, Lenwood, Newberry Springs and Yermo.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Violent Crime Drops 14 Percent in US Over Two Years

WASHINGTON : Violent crime against persons dropped 14 percent in the United States over the last two years and the per capita rate of property crime decreased almost seven percent, the Justice Department reported.
The report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics was immediately hailed as a major achievement by the administration of President George W. Bush, which has been looking for a success story at home amid a shaky economic recovery.
"With violent crime stabilized at its lowest level since 1973, Americans across our nation are safer and have the freedom to live their lives without fear of becoming victims of crime," Attorney General John Ashcroft said in a statement.
He attributed the success to the administration's tougher approach to gun crime, saying law enforcement services were "reducing the number of gun-toting criminals on the streets and keeping gun crimes down."
The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that only seven percent of all violent crimes in 2003 were committed with a firearm, a decrease from 11 percent in 1993, and that the per capita rate of non-lethal firearm violence was only 1.9 per 1,000 persons, a two-thirds reduction over 10 years.
There was an 11-percent drop in rapes and a 27-percent decrease in sexual assaults from the previous two-year period, according to the report.
Robberies were down 21 percent, aggravated assaults were down 20 percent, and simple assaults down 11 percent in 2002 and 2003.
"Thanks to the hard work of law enforcement officers, judges, prosecutors and corrections officers, law-abiding Americans are enjoying unprecedented safety," Ashcroft pointed out.
But the data also indicated that during 2002, the most recent year with final counts available, there were 16,200 murders and non-negligent manslaughters, which equates to the same per capita homicide rate as in 2001.
Preliminary 2003 data show the homicide rate will be unchanged, the report said.
And only 48 percent of all violent crimes were reported to police in 2003, as were 38 percent of all property crimes. (AFP)

Outlawing of Confessions in Police Custody

Nairobi: Efforts to fight crime has been undermined by the outlawing of confessions made by suspects while in police custody, a senior police officer has said.
Rift Valley provincial police chief Joseph Kitonyi said the repeal of sections 46 and 47 of the Evidence Act had greatly hindered investigations.
Before the repeal in 2002, such confessions were used in court as evidence, but they are no longer accepted, he noted.
Briefing journalists in his Nakuru office on the security situation in the province, he said law enforcers faced many challenges as they fight crime.
"On many occasions, the police are left with exhibits recovered from suspects, but since their confessions are no longer acceptable as evidence, such recoveries cannot directly be linked to the source," Mr Kitonyi said.
Such technical problems cause the police to lose criminal cases, he said, adding that notorious criminals were usually released from prison because of challenges posed by the law.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Call for Papers: Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice

The Canadian Journal of Criminology, which recently became the Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, invites contributions on any aspect of crime or criminal justice in Canada. Comparative studies or analyses involving other jurisdictions are particularly welcome. The journal accepts research articles, policy analyses, or commentaries. Brief research notes are also welcome. CJCCJ is published by the University of Toronto Press, and has been publishing continuously for almost 50 years, making it one of the oldest scholarly journals in the field. The length of most articles is 20-25 double-spaced pages. Commentaries and research notes tend to be approximately half this length. Instructions to authors at posted at the journal’s website.
For further information, please contact the editor, Julian V. Roberts, at:
Contributions should be sent electronically to:
Recent contents of the journal can be found at the following website:

Keeping Australia Safe...

The major political parties disagree on the best methods for keeping Australians safe at home and how to disarm threats.
The Jakarta embassy bombing has shown in bloody fashion why no policy can guarantee Australia is fully protected against terrorist attack.
Australians are at their most vulnerable overseas when they are far from the protection of tough anti-terrorism laws and security measures and it is increasingly clear that South-East Asia is Australia's front line in the so-called war on terror.
However dangerous the situation, they will continue to travel abroad.
Two years after the Bali bombings, more Australians than ever are applying for passports and, before this latest attack, the number visiting Bali was nearly back to the levels before the nightclub attacks.
Some of Indonesia's more militant Islamic schools are fertile recruiting grounds for the main regional terrorist group, Jemaah Islamiah, and, with the national school system badly underresourced, they are attracting students in large numbers.
Reducing that flow of recruits is crucial but it also carries the risk of Australia overplaying its hand and making matters worse.
Labor says that by getting involved in Iraq the Government has paid too little attention to the threat on our doorstep. It has promised to spend $37.5 million strengthening the Indonesian education system and the counter-terrorism resources of the police there.
The Government says it is well aware of the schools problem but any move to interfere has to be discreet to avoid being seen as anti-Muslim.
Labor also says relations with neighbouring countries must be improved so that the Australian Navy and Air Force can help patrol the region to prevent terrorists moving among the archipelago nations of the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia or attacking shipping in waterways such as the Strait of Malacca. Many ships carry dangerous cargo such as liquefied natural gas.
The Government says the key to thwarting attacks is good intelligence and has told the agencies they can have whatever resources they need, but it will take years to recruit and train enough personnel with strong regional language skills.
The Government has reached counter-terrorism agreements with nine neighbouring countries.
Since the attacks on September 11, 2001, it has spent an extra $3.2 billion on national security.
Parliament has passed a wide range of tough national security laws making it a crime to even associate with members of organisations deemed by the Attorney-General to be terrorist.
The number of defence personnel on alert to combat terrorists has been more than doubled and special forces have been trained to deal with weapons of mass destruction. Air marshals have been placed on some international flights, and baggage and passengers are being more thoroughly screened.
Labor says that's not enough. It wants a high-level inquiry into the intelligence agencies and it will create a new department of homeland security.
The department would put under unified command the security functions that are now scattered across government departments and under the direction of ministers who have part-time responsibility for security among their other functions.
Labor's new department would take in the security functions of the Attorney-General's Department, Immigration, Customs and the national security division of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, which would oversee the transition.
Other agencies to remain separate while reporting to the minister for homeland security would be the Australian Federal Police (including the proposed new coastguard), the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Crime Commission, Austrac (which traces laundered money), Crimtrac (a fingerprint and DNA database) and the Institute of Criminology.
Labor says the plan would bring a more cohesive command structure and allow greater information sharing.
The US created such a department two years ago and Daniel Benjamin - director of counter-terrorism in the National Security Council during the Clinton presidency and now a senior fellow at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, says that restructuring did not work well because it was too ambitious. While after September 11 some US Government functions had to be rationalised, the new department was much less effective than the 22 agencies that went into it.
Benjamin says it will be another two to five years before it gets back to that point.
The Government says creating such a department and launching a judicial inquiry would distract the security agencies from their task of protecting the community at a time of widespread international terrorism.
It says that in the middle of a global war on terror Labor would squander the precious time of the intelligence, security and border protection agencies by trying to implement a large, ill-defined and unworkable political fix. Labor says its plan is less ambitious and it will avoid the problems encountered by the US.
David Wright-Neville, a former officer in the Office of National Assessments, the agency that reports to the Prime Minister, says the agencies are in a bureaucratic mess, morale is falling and there's a risk of bureaucratic turf wars among agencies undermining their efforts.
There's a strong view among security experts that invading Iraq has made the situation worse.
Aldo Borgu, a terrorism specialist with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, says that if Iraq is the front line in the war on terror that's because the US and Australia have made it so. In fact, what is happening in Iraq is more classic urban guerilla warfare than a campaign of terrorism.
That view is backed by Daniel Benjamin who says the invasion was a mistake that turned the country into a giant recruiting ground for terrorists.
Allan Behm, a former head of the Defence Department's international policy and strategy division, says Iraq has made Australia a greater target because there are now more people with more anger seeking to direct it at Australia for what they believe is a war against Islam.
Borgu also argues that even calling the campaign a war on terror is a mistake because it creates the impression it can only be fought with military means when a much broader strategy is required.
He says the Government's white paper on terrorism has excessively played down the "root causes" of terrorism - issues such as poverty and the Israel-Palestine conflict.
He says the Government is right to claim that an activist foreign policy, as in Iraq, can help combat the threat. "But by the same token it can also feed the threat."

Sunday, September 12, 2004

DNA Fingerprinting not Foolproof ?

BRITAIN: A leading scientist says the growing number of profiles in police databases means more information is necessary to prevent accidental matches "If the DNA profile is partial because the sample is degraded, then accidental matches often occur. However, it is important to remember that the national DNA database is an intelligence database." Sir Alec Jeffreys, a geneticist at Leicester UniversityThe genetic profiles held by police for criminal investigations are not sophisticated enough to prevent false identifications, according to the father of DNA fingerprinting.Sir Alec Jeffreys, a geneticist at Leicester University, England, said police DNA databases should hold more information to lessen the chances of a false positive.He was speaking at a briefing to mark the 20th anniversary of his pioneering of DNA fingerprinting.Genetic profiles stored by police normally record the details of 10 specific parts of the long chain of molecules that make up a person's DNA. The chances of two unrelated people having the same details for all these 10 markers -- and hence the chance of a false identification -- is said to be about one in a billion. This method has traditionally been regarded as highly efficient at identifying suspects from DNA traces left at crime scenes.However, Jeffreys said the increasing number of records being held on the UK police database -- currently about 2.5 million -- meant that having only 10 markers per person was no longer foolproof.He suggested 15 or 16 markers to reduce the chances of two people having the same profile to one in more than a trillion. American law-enforcement authorities are already considering changing the profiles in their DNA databases along these lines.In Britain, DNA evidence has been used in countless criminal investigations and the police regard it as an invaluable tool. Peter Gill, of the UK's Forensic Science Service, which administers the British DNA database for the police, said his agency was "confident that the 10 markers currently used are sufficient.""The chance of an accidental match is fairly small, yet we never discount the possibility, and all our reporting officers are aware of this," he said."If the DNA profile is partial because the sample is degraded, then accidental matches often occur. However, it is important to remember that the national DNA database is an intelligence database," Gill said."This means that before a decision to prosecute can be given, all of the evidence in the case must be carefully considered. DNA is never reported in isolation. The jury makes its decision based on all of the evidence presented," he said.Jeffreys also gave a warning against keeping DNA records of people who had been wrongly suspected of crimes -- something UK police have been legally allowed to do since 2001.In certain parts of the country, this could lead to an over-representation of certain ethnic groups and could lead to resentment, he said. The solution was either to delete records of those who had been cleared of any offence or simply to extend DNA profiling to everyone in Britain.He also expressed reservations about the idea of extracting anything more than simple identification data from DNA. "Police store not only the DNA profile but also the physical DNA," Jeffreys said. "If they have that, there is the long-term risk that people could access health information in the future. Police have absolutely no right to that information."He sought to calm civil liberty fears that police might reach the stage of producing Photofits based solely on DNA information, saying science would be a limiting factor.There are few robust tests for identifying physical characteristics from someone's DNA -- such as hair and eye color and broad ethnic origin -- although research in the area is continuing.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Scottish Wardens Get Kits to Catch Spitters

Scotland: Traffic wardens in the Capital are to be issued with DNA swab kits in a bid to catch people who spit on them while they are working. More than 60 Greenway-patrolling police wardens are to be given the kits to secure evidence and encourage more reporting of incidents. The move, instigated by Lothian and Borders Police, comes after a number of wardens reported being spat on by members of the public. It also follows the introduction of the "spit kits" on Edinburgh buses, ScotRail services and the London Underground. The kits include sterile swabs to pick up any trace of an offender’s DNA. The packs also contain a pair of latex gloves and an evidence collection bag. New laws mean anyone arrested for an offence can be DNA-tested and their unique profile added to a national database. Any DNA matches can be made within a matter of seconds. Police said they had seen a rise in the number of incidents in which wardens have been spat on. In one recent case, a cyclist spat in a female traffic warden’s face for no apparent reason. Another victim is traffic warden Bill Wilson, 55, who is based at King’s Stables Road. Recalling a recent incident, he said: "I was asking a van driver to move on because he was parked in the wrong place. He got really angry and started shouting at me. I asked him again to please move on, explaining that I would have to give him a ticket if he didn’t. "At that point he just spat at me - it landed right on the lapel of my jacket. It was disgusting. "All I was doing was asking him to move - I was giving him an opportunity before issuing a ticket." Mr Wilson, who has been a city warden for three years, added: "I think these kits are a great idea. If I had one when this man spat at me he could have been convicted. "I think it is totally unacceptable we should have to put up with this kind of behaviour from the public while we are at work." Inspector David Legge, who is in charge of Lothian and Borders Police’s traffic warden section, said: "Just the thought of being spat upon will sicken and repel most people and nobody should have to work with the fear of this happening to them. "Unfortunately, wardens are occasionally confronted by irate drivers or members of the public. Verbal abuse is common but, thankfully, a physical assault only occurs in the very isolated case. We will not accept violence, or the threat of such, for carrying out our duties. "People who choose to resort to physical means will be pursued and the powerful tool of DNA-profiling used for that purpose. "The public will by now be aware of just what can be done in the DNA evidence arena and we intend to fully use it." Insp Legge added: "Our wardens are approachable and communicative. They can offer information and guidance. "However, their core function is to reduce congestion on priority routes in Edinburgh by minimising obstructions to traffic at key times of the day. "Generally, the wardens enjoy a peaceful relationship with the motoring public of Edinburgh. Most drivers accept the presence of the wardens enforcing the Greenway regulations as improving the environment, optimising road safety and refining traffic operations on key routes." In April, DNA kits were issued to more than 1800 employees at the city’s two main bus firms. More than 25 bus passengers faced assault charges for spitting at drivers following the introduction of the saliva recovery kits on services run by First in Glasgow last September.

Covert Squad to Hit Crime in Australia

AUSTRALIA: A NEW police flying squad will target criminal activity linked to licensed venues, security guards, brothels and bikies.The 22-member branch is likely to use undercover operations to investigate problems surrounding gaming, prostitution, fortified premises, crowd controllers and the security industry.Police sources say it is likely to be known as the Licensing Enforcement Branch and be operational by January.It is understood the squad will include officers from SAPOL's liquor and gaming and vice and gaming areas and recruit other public servants.Detective Chief Inspector Paul Dickson, formerly of Adelaide CIB, said he was setting up a new branch but was unable to comment until it was officially launched. The SA Police Association said the branch would help clean up certain venues which had become "havens for criminal activity".Police, including officers from liquor and gaming, met on Thursday to discuss how it would operate.Police sources also believe the branch will "eventually" be expanded to 37 members.A police officer involved in the changes told the Sunday Mail it would operate mostly "covertly"."All of a sudden you're going to get police assigned specifically to look after a (venue) and therefore any breach of licence or security is going to be detected a lot faster," the officer, who declined to be named, said."Once everything gets going there's going to be seven police to each team."Local Service Areas will still be involved in policing licensed premises and will help the new branch, the officer said. Police Association president Peter Alexander welcomed the move, saying it would address growing public concerns about licensed venues."Obviously there's been an aspect of bikies being involved in the security industry and also involved in licensed premises, so it's important there's an ongoing police presence," he said.Mr Alexander said particular licensed premises had been havens for criminal activity."It's important a specific group is looking into that," he said. "There needs to be a police presence besides the normal patrols."It's great that the department is going to focus on providing more policing within licensed premises."He said under-age drinking and drug use were also a concern, particularly in some city venues.Opposition police spokesman Robert Brokenshire said he was not surprised by the move given "problems of compliance with licensed premises"."More needs to be done in that area - I think everyone realises that," he said.He said some of the problems, particularly at city night clubs, were exacerbated by a shortage of police and lack of resources provided by the State Government.Australian Hotels Association spokesman Hamish Arthur said it was not the AHA's policy to discuss matters relating to police.In an e-mailed statement, Commissioner Mal Hyde's media manager Roberta Heather said it was too early to comment about a new branch."A project is under way to develop a new branch, but I cannot confirm anything . . . as the details are not yet available," Ms Heather said."We are aware of media interest in this project and when we have something of substance to say, we will make a release to general media."

Friday, September 10, 2004

Decaying Pig Corpses and Forensics

EXETER (Reuters) - Decaying pig corpses have deposited in secretlocations around London are providing scientists with forensic information that may help them solve crimes. Scientists at the Natural History Museum are hoping that the corpses --left in woods, on top and inside of buildings among other areas -- willreveal secrets to enable them to pinpoint the time of death of a corpse."The key factor is temperature," Zoe Adams, a forensic entomologist atthe museum, told a science conference. The temperature at the different locations, the types of insects foundon the corpse and how long it took them to get there will help theresearchers estimate how much time has passed since a victim died -- thepost-mortem interval (PMI). Changes in the body such as rigor mortis give an indication of the timeof death. But after the body is 2-3 days old, more information is neededto provide an accurate estimate of PMI. That’s where the insects come in. "Each phase of the decay process has a different wave of insectsassociated with it," Adams told the annual British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting. The pig carcasses give scientists a better idea of how long it takes theinsects to get to the bodies at the different locations and during different times of the year. But Adams said finding a suitable spot in the city for a corpse is aproblem."It’s smelly," she said.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

New Crime Lab in Pierre, SD

A new state-of-the art crime lab that will help in these kinds of cases should be complete by next year. Constructions crews are in the process of digging the foundation for the new South Dakota crime-lab complex in Pierre.
The 24-million dollar building will not only house a crime lab 2.5 times bigger than the current one, it will also hold offices for the Attorney General, the Department of Criminal Investigation and Law Enforcement Training Center.
The 151,000 square foot building is costing a couple of million dollars more than planned, in part because of the rising costs of building supplies.

Fewer Kids Use Illegal Drugs in U.S.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fewer U.S. teens are using marijuana, Ecstasy orLSD but more are bingeing on alcohol and abusing prescription drugs,according to an annual government survey.While overall rates of illegal drug use have not changed, the use ofsome drugs decreased sharply, the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use andHealth found.Among youths aged 12 to 17, 41 percent fewer said they had used Ecstasyin the past month and 54 percent fewer said they had taken LSD. Thesurvey found a 5 percent decline in the number of teens who had everused marijuana.The Health and Human Services Department quickly credited an advertisingand education campaign. "It is encouraging news that more Americanyouths are getting the message that drugs are dangerous, includingmarijuana," HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said in a statement.The annual survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health ServicesAdministration found that 19.5 million Americans aged 12 and older, or 8percent of that population, currently use illicit drugs.MARIJUANA STILL NO. 1 ILLEGAL DRUG: Marijuana continues to be the most commonly used illegal drug, with 14.6million current users or 6.2 percent of the population. The survey foundan estimated 2.6 million new marijuana users in 2002, about two-thirdsof them under the age of 18.The Marijuana Policy Project, which supports the legalization ofmarijuana, said the numbers showed government policies have failed."When you clear away the spin and look at the long-term trends, the realstory is that three decades of drug use surveys show that marijuanaprohibition has completely failed to keep young people from usingmarijuana," said Steve Fox, director of government relations for thegroup.The SAMHSA survey found the numbers of binge and heavy drinkers did notchange between 2002 and 2003. About 54 million Americans 12 and olderadmitted to binge drinking, defined as having five or more drinks in arow, in the month before the survey.Young adults aged 18 to 25 were the likeliest binge and heavy drinkers.An estimated 13.6 percent of people 12 or older -- 32 million people --admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol at least once in the12 months prior to the interviews, down from 14.2 percent in 2002.Misuse of three painkillers -- Vicodin, Lortab and Lorcet -- rose from13.1 million to 15.7 million. Similarly the number of people who saidthey had ever misused narcotic painkillers such as Percocet, Percodan,or Tylox rose from 13.1 million to 15.7 million people.An estimated 2.3 million people said they used cocaine in 2003, 604,000of whom used crack. One million used hallucinogens including LSD, PCPand Ecstasy while an estimated 119,000 people used heroin. These numberswere all similar to 2002 rates.The 2003 survey is based on in-person interviews with people aged 12 andolder but it does not include active duty military personnel, thehomeless, prisoners or others in institutions.

'Brain fingerprinting' to nab white-collar criminals.

SHIMLA: India has become the second country after the US to introduce brain fingerprinting to solve fast spreading white-collar crimes. M S Rao, chief forensic scientist of the Government Examiner of Question Documents (GEQD) centre here, announced the adoption of the technique at the start of a three-day international forensic seminar on combating white-collar crime that is being attended by 180 delegates from India and abroad. "India is the only country after the US having the latest brain fingerprinting technology to help in establishing if an accused person is involved in a crime," Rao said. Explaining the brain fingerprinting technology, he said, "The brain records all our experiences like the hard disk of a computer. During investigations, if the crime-related visual, oral and audio information is provided to individuals, it will show on the guilty person's EEG, as it matches the information stored in brain cells." GEQD Shimla, which is celebrating its centenary this year, is the second oldest such centre in the world. The oldest is in Britain. "The GEQD Shimla has been providing crucial services to the nation by providing timely and quality forensic examination of documents pertaining to white-collar crimes," Rao said. The centre examines cases of forgery and fraud, counterfeit currency, fraudulent documents and passport forgeries, he said. "We are at par with the best in the world in our field." The GEQD is currently investigating the multibillion-rupee fake stamp paper scam masterminded by Abdul Karim Telgi. In the past it has investigated the Harshad Mehta securities scam case and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha bribery case, among a host of others.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Your hair can reveal your crime

LONDON: An examination of a single piece of hair can help police to track down a criminal's whereabouts, claims a new study.Presenting their results at the British Association for the Advancement of Science Festival in Exeter, Stuart Black and his colleagues from the University of Reading claimed that their discovery can help the police to find a criminal by measuring the ratio of oxygen and hydrogen isotopes in their tissues."Hair is particularly good because it grows about a centimetre a month. So, it actually grows a record of not only where you have been, but what you have been eating and drinking," The Newscientist quoted Black as saying.This technology could greatly help police in their investigations and immigration officials in deciding whether people seeking asylum are arriving from appropriate countries or not."We're not going to get a postcode. It will only get as far as a regional level, but that may be good enough for some cases," Black adds.Until now, researchers had been using these isotopes to investigate a wide range of things like the source of air pollution or how butterflies migrate. But this is the first application of the method on living human beings.The technique, however, has some limitations such as when a person drinks large amounts of bottled water, the isotope sample could resemble the water's original source more than person's current location. Secondly, police admits that tracking frequent travellers is difficult.But despite these shortcomings, the researchers are convinced about the efficacy of their discovery."It would be a cheap and fairly rapid technique. That's really important to a police investigation," Black concluded.