If you watch any of the cop shows on TV, or if you’re unlucky enough to be the victim of a crime, you’ll see plenty of science in the way police investigate crimes. Fingerprints, DNA, footprints, tyre tracks, every possible fragment of physical evidence can be examined scientifically to establish who did the deed and prove a case against the perpetrator.
Forensic science is at the heart of modern police work. But you don’t have to go back very far to a time when this was not the case. Police were hired for their brawn more than their brains. Witnesses and informants were the main sources of what sometimes loosely passed as “evidence”.
The earliest use of what we now know as forensic science in Australia dates back to the 1920s, and the pioneer was Frederick Piggott, a detective with the Victoria Police CIB. His story is eloquently told in a new book by Melbourne author Kevin Morgan, Detective Piggott’s Casebook.
Frederick Piggott solved some major cases using the new methods. But he was also involved in the infamous Gun Alley case, in which forensic science was used to hang an innocent man.
Click on the audio player to hear Kevin Morgan talk about Detective Piggott’s Casebook.
Link to publisher’s website http://www.hardiegrant.com.au/books/books/book?isbn=9781742702650