Cooperation between law enforcement officers and forensic specialists: Diagnosis and possible improvements - a Lithuanian experience

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Abstract

The article investigates the characteristics and forms of cooperation between criminal investigation officers* and forensic laboratory specialists in pre-trial proceedings, as well as practical problems in such cooperation. Recently there have been a number of particularly heated debates about the relationship between determining a person possessing special knowledge and his/her status in pre-trial proceedings. Other discussed aspects include cooperation between entities involved in pre-trial proceedings in international contexts. A less intensive (albeit equally important) discussion relates to the form and characteristics of cooperation between criminal investigation officers on the one hand and specialists and experts on the other in investigating criminal acts. Bearing in mind the high practical importance and the existing differences in scholarly approaches to these issues, the current study concentrates on the forms and content of cooperation between law enforcement officers and specialists (experts) from forensic laboratories, as well as on problems resulting from such cooperation and directions for improvement. The first part of the article presents selected views on the definition of a person possessing special knowledge currently used in Lithuania** and in a number of other states. In the authors' opinion, unification (harmonization) of various notions (definitions), terms and statuses of an expert, a specialist and special knowledge should be one of the objectives in implementing the vision of the joint European forensic science area 2020. Achieving this objective requires a comprehensive analysis of standards in law and management in using special knowledge of each state***. The second part, supported by empirical study results, discusses practical problems of cooperation between a law enforcement officer and a specialist (expert), analyzes three basic forms of their cooperation and presents the content of those forms: activities at the crime scene, cooperation of the two entities in commissioning tests, preparing test materials and actual performance of such tests, and finally participation of a specialist in other pre-trial activities. This part of the paper also proposes methods of improving the efficiency of such cooperation. The third part is based on an evaluation of the study results and presents the authors' observations regarding the tendency of improving the efficiency of cooperation between law enforcement officers and specialists (experts).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-210
JournalArchiwum Medycyny Sadowej i Kryminologii
Volume66
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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Keywords

  • criminal investigation officer
  • criminalistics
  • forms of cooperation
  • pre-trial proceedings
  • special knowledge
  • specialist (expert)
  • cooperation

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