Hogeschool van Amsterdam

Centre of Applied Research Technology

Rapid identification information and its influence on the perceived clues at the crime scene

an experimental study


Crime scenes can always be explained in multiple ways. Traces alone do not provide enough information to infer a whole series of events that has taken place; they only provide clues for these inferences. CSIs need additional information to be able to interpret observed traces. In the near future, a new source of information that could help to interpret a crime scene and testing hypotheses will become available with the advent of rapid identification techniques. A previous study with CSIs demonstrated that this information had an influence on the interpretation of the crime scene, yet it is still unknown what exact information was used for this interpretation and for the construction of their scenario. The present study builds on this study and gains more insight into (1) the exact investigative and forensic information that was used by CSIs to construct their scenario, (2) the inferences drawn from this information, and (3) the kind of evidence that was selected at the crime scene to (dis)prove this scenario. We asked 48 CSIs to investigate a potential murder crime scene on the computer and explicate what information they used to construct a scenario and to select traces for analysis. The results show that the introduction of rapid ID information at the start of an investigation contributes to the recognition of different clues at the crime scene, but also to different interpretations of identical information, depending on the kind of information available and the scenario one has in mind. Furthermore, not all relevant traces were recognized, showing that important information can be missed during the investigation. In this study, accurate crime scenarios where mainly build with forensic information, but we should be aware of the fact that crime scenes are always contaminated with unrelated traces and thus be cautious of the power of rapid ID at the crime scene.

Reference de Gruijter, M., Nee, C., & de Poot, C. J. (2017). Rapid identification information and its influence on the perceived clues at the crime scene: an experimental study. Science and Justice, 57(6), 421-430. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scijus.2017.05.009
Published by  Centre for Applied Research Technology 1 January 2017

Publication date

Jan 2017


Madeleine de Gruijter
Claire Nee