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Dispelling the myths of CSI

With plenty of programmes featuring forensic investigations on our screens, we could all be forgiven for thinking those men and women in white suits go around solving crimes single-handed in five minutes, armed with guns.

Here Kate Unwin, Forensic Biologist and Senior lecturer and Course Leader for the Forensic and Applied Biology degree at the University of Worcester, dispels five myths from shows such as CSI:

1. You can get a DNA profile in less time than it takes to make a cup of coffee

Not yet! A new technique is coming online where DNA can be done in an hour - but this will only be for a limited amount of cases.

2. A single superhero CSI can save the day

Afraid not! In reality we have a chain of people with individual specialisms - here a CSI would collect evidence from a scene, a Forensic Scientist would examine, test and interpret the evidence and Police Officers would build the case.

3. CSI's carry guns

Thankfully not! CSI's are more than likely called in after police have attended and arrested the bad guys.

4. CSI's and Forensic scientists wear designer sunglasses, sharp suits and high heels

Nope! Without scene suits, mob caps, gloves and shoe covers, there is a risk that we would be getting DNA profiles from the investigators rather than the sample due to contamination.

5. None of the cases that you work on as a student are real

No! As a student on the Forensic and Applied Biology course at the University of Worcester you will be working on real life cases and case examples, because the people who teach the course have been there done that.

Kate Unwin has spent 13 years as a Forensic Biologist with the Forensic Science Service and more recently Cellmark Forensic, during which time she worked on hundreds of criminal cases, including offences such as burglary, hit and run, fraud, sexual offences, serious assaults and murder. She has examined evidence, both within a laboratory environment and at scenes of crimes and has been classified as an expert witness in a court of law. Her areas of expertise include body fluid evidence, blood pattern analysis, damage assessment and DNA profiling.