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A curious reconstruction? the shaping of 'Marketized' forensic science

By Christopher J Lawless


The integration of science into policing functions continues to be a subject of considerable official concern. Sociological study of forensic science has demonstrated great promise in illuminating the dynamics of the law-science relationship, but has yet to be fully extended to issues relating to policing. This paper seeks to address the importance of extending research activity in this area by addressing the effects of broader political and economic trends on the development of forensic science and its use in criminal investigations. It focuses on the influence of 'liberalizing' policies on policing functions, which have extended to the provision of scientific support to the police. Forensic scientific services in England and Wales are now procured via a market-led system, and an economic imperative can be seen to have permeated strongly into this domain. With recourse to examples of a series of initiatives, I show how the application of liberalizing processes has permeated into the science-police relationship in various ways, leading to the emergence of assemblages which serve to differentially reconstruct the relationship between forensic scientists and their chief 'customers', the police. I argue that these differences in reconstruction reflect ongoing tensions between two different interpretations of scientific integration - one which is science-led and another which is police-led. Drawing upon these examples, I demonstrate how these tensions manifest themselves, but also show how these two interpretations co-exist. I show how an exploration of these initiatives aids understanding of how science, policing, and liberal modes of governance co-evolve

Topics: RA1001 Forensic Medicine. Medical jurisprudence. Legal medicine
Publisher: Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation, London School of Economics and Political Science
Year: 2010
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online

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