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From crime scene to courtroom: A review of the current bioanalytical evidence workflows used in rape and sexual assault investigations in the United Kingdom.

Dawnay, N and Sheppard, K (2023) From crime scene to courtroom: A review of the current bioanalytical evidence workflows used in rape and sexual assault investigations in the United Kingdom. Science and Justice, 63 (2). pp. 206-228. ISSN 1355-0306

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Open Access URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scijus.2022.12.006 (published)

Abstract

Sexual assault casework requires the collaboration of multiple agency staff to formalise an investigative pipeline running from crime scene to court. While the same could be said of many other forensic investigations, few require the additional support of health care staff and the combined forensic involvement of body-fluid examiners, DNA experts and analytical chemists. The sheer amount of collaborative effort between agencies is laid out through a detailed examination of the investigative workflow from crime scene to courtroom with each step in the pipelines detailed and discussed. Beginning with a review of sexual assault legislation in the United Kingdom this article details how sexual assault investigations are initiated by police and supported by sexual assault referral centre (SARC) staff who are often the first responders providing primary healthcare and patient support to victims while simultaneously collecting and assessing forensic evidence. Detailing the myriad of evidential material that can be documented and collected at the SARC, the review identifies and categorises key forensic tests to first detect and identify body-fluids recovered from evidence through to the secondary analysis of DNA to help identify the suspect. This review also focusses on the collection and analysis of biological material used to support the allegation that the sexual activity was non-consensual and provides a breakdown of common marks and trauma as well as a review of common analytical methods used to infer Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault (DFSA). The culmination of the investigative pipeline is discussed by reviewing the Rape and Serious Sexual Assault (RASSO) workflow used by the Crown Prosecution Service before providing our thoughts on the future of forensic analysis and possible changes to the described workflows.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Legal & Forensic Medicine
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA1001 Forensic Medicine. Medical jurisprudence. Legal medicine
R Medicine > RS Pharmacy and materia medica
Divisions: Pharmacy & Biomolecular Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2023 12:27
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2023 12:10
DOI or Identification number: 10.1016/j.scijus.2022.12.006
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/18541

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