OCR Psychology G543 - Forensic Key Studies

OCR Psychology G543 - Forensic Key Studies

[Note: Although you learn 72 studies for the OCR course the exam board have to ask you at least 3 out of the 4 topics for each half of the course (Forensic / Health & Clinical (or whatever options you chose)) therefore I am only learning 3 which is why I removed Turning to Crime therefore removing 9 studies from the Forensic side of the course. Doing this removes the guarantee that you will have a choice over questions in the exam but means you have less studies to learn.]

  • Making a case
  • Reaching a verdict
  • After a guilty verdict

To create these revision cards I have combined these revision cards with these and my own notes as well as my revision guide and the internet. I have basically taken the good bits from each and corrected / expanded / taken away parts to make a set of accurate and detailed notes ready to memorise for the exam. I have made a set for Health & Clinical too.

  • Created by: baysey
  • Created on: 16-04-14 14:11

Forensic Psychology

  • 1 Making a case
    • 1.1 Interviewing witnesses
    • 1.2 Interviewing suspects
    • 1.3 Offender profiling
  • 2 Reaching a verdict
    • 2.1 Persuading a jury
    • 2.2 Witness appeal
    • 2.3 Reaching a verdict
  • 3 After a guilty verdict
    • 3.1 Imprisonment
    • 3.2 Alternatives to imprisonment
    • 3.3 Treatment programmes
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1.1.1 Bruce et al. - Recognising Faces

Aim: To investigate the relative recognisability of internal and external facial features.

Method: 2 lab experiments.

Participants: Expt. 1: 30 staff / students from Stirling uni (15M / 15F) mean age 29.2 years. Expt. 2: 48 undergraduates at Stirling Uni (21M / 27F).

Procedure: Expt. 1: Ps asked to match 40 composite images made with E-Fit to 10 celebrity photos. 3 sets were used containing whole face / just internal features / just external features. Expt. 2: Ps shown photo line-up of celebrities (line-up either easy (faces very different) or hard (faces very similar)) then shown the composites one at a time. Ps had to pick celebrity face that matched composite they were shown. Only internal / external features used.

Results: Expt. 1: Ps matched external & whole faces correctly 33% of the time and only 19.5% for internal features. Expt 2: Composites of external features were identified better (42%) than internal features (24%). These findings were consistent across difficult and easy conditions.

Conclusion: Ps performed just above chance with internal features and did better with external features / whole faces suggesting even with recognisable faces like celebrities it is hard to reconstruct the internal features.

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1.1.2 Loftus et al. - Weapon Focus

Aim: To provide support for the 'weapon focus' effect when witnessing a crime.

Method: Lab experiment.

Ps: 36 students at Uni of Washington aged 18-31. Recruited through advertisement and either given $3.50 or extra credit for psychology students.

Procedure: Control: Ps shown slides of a queue of people in Taco Bell restaurant. Person B hands the cashier a cheque. Experimental: Ps shown same slides as control but person B pulls out a gun instead. Gun / Cheque seen in 4 slides. Ps asked to fill out a multiple choice, 20 item questionnaire and to pick person B out of 12 head to shoulder photos and rate how confident they were in their choice on a scale of 1-6.

Results: Questionnaire results showed no significant difference across conditions. Control Ps chose correctly 38.9% of the time compared to the experimental condition, 11.1% of the time. There was no difference in confidence of the Ps across both conditions. Ps fixated on the gun for longer than the cheque.

Conclusion: Ps spent longer looking at the weapon therefore had more difficulty identifying the suspect. The influence may be greater in reality when a witness would be more aroused.

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1.1.3 Fisher et al. - The Cognitive Interview

Aim: To test the cognitive interview (CI) in the field.

Method: Field experiment with actual interviews of real witnesses by serving police detectives.

Participants: 16 detectives with at least 5 years experience in the Robbery Division of the Police Department in Dade county.

Procedure: Phase 1: Detectives asked to record their interviews using their regular interview techniques. 88 interviews were recorded. Phase 2: Detectives divided into 2 groups, one was trained in CI techniques during 4 1-hour long sessions. 7 detectives completed the training and were used in the results. Across both conditions 47 more interviews were recorded and then analysed by a team at California uni who were blind to the conditions.

Results: CI trained detectives collected 47% more information than before their training and 63% more than the untrained detectives. No difference in accuracy across conditions. CI took longer but not by a lot.

Conclusion: Strong support was gathered for CI as more information was collected with no loss of accuracy and only a little time increase.

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1.2.1 Mann et al. - Detecting Lies

Aim: To test police officers ability to detect lies when interviewing suspects.

Method: Field experiment.

Participants: 99 Kent police officers (75M / 24F), mean age 34.3 years.

Procedure: Ps asked to judge truthfulness of people in real life police interviews. Ps shown 54 clips and had to fill in questionnaire about their experience in detecting lies. After each clip they indicated whether they thought the suspect was lying or not and how confident they were in their judgement and then list what cues they had used which indicated the suspect was lying.

Results: No significant difference between lie and truth accuracy but both were significantly above chance. Also the more experience an officer had the greater the lie and truth accuracy. The most frequently mentioned cues were gaze, movements, vagueness, contradictions in stories and fidgeting.

Conclusion: The more experience an officer has the better they are at detecting lies. Good lie detectors rely more on story cues than body language.

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1.2.2 Inbau et al. - Reid's 'Nine-steps'

Nine steps of interrogation:

1. Direct confrontation - the suspect is told they are thought to be the offender.
2. Suspect is given the opportunity to shift the blame from themselves.
3. Suspect should never be allowed to deny guilt, interrupt any denials of guilt.
4. Ignore any reasons as to why they could not have committed the crime.
5. Reinforce sincerity, keeping good eye contact and using first names.
6. If the suspect cries, infer guilt.
7. Pose the 'alternative question' both choices admit guilt but one is more socially acceptable than the other.
8. Get the suspect to admit guilt in front of witnesses.
9. Document their confession and get them to sign it to avoid them retracting it later.

Inbau thought the use of this technique was justified because it was used on people who were deemed suspects through their preliminary interview but it has been found that using this technique on young or mentally impaired people can lead to false confessions.

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1.2.3 Gudjohnnson et al. - False Confession

Aim: To document the case of a youth who was under pressure and distressed.

Method: Case study of FC, 17 year old youth of average intelligence, with no mental health issues, accused of two murders.

Case: In 1987, two elderly women were found dead in their homes, they had been sexually assaulted and their savings were missing. FC was arrested because of inconsistencies in accounts of his movements during an earlier routine enquiry. He was also spending more money than usual. There was no forensic evidence to link him to the case. During the interview with police FC was repeated accused of lying. The questions FC was asked were leading and accusatory. The police also suggested sexual impotency. FC found this very distressing and after 14 hours of aggressive questioning he confessed. The next day a second interview was conducted, in the presence of the duty solicitor FC took back his confession however he confessed again later on under further pressure about his inability to have good relationships with women. After spending a year in jail, FC was released when another person pleaded guilty to the crime. While in prison FC underwent a psychiatric evaluation where it was found that he had an abnormally high level of suggestibility.

Conclusion: This is a clear case of 'coerced compliant confession'. FC felt pressurised and confessed to escape the situation.

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1.3.1 Canter et al. - Top-Down Approach

Aim: To test the reliability of the top-down typologies by applying them to 100 cases.

Procedure: Content analysis of 100 cases (taken from the Missen Corpus) of serial killers in the USA. The third crime committed by each serial killer was analysed using the Crime Classification Manual to determine the crime as being organised or disorganised.

Results: Twice as many disorganised as organised crime scene actions were identified. In 70% of cases the body was concealed and in 75% sexual activity occurred. Further analysis failed to reveal any significant difference between organised and disorganised crime scene actions.

Conclusion: Instead of there being a distinction between the two types of serial murder, all of the crimes had to have an organised element to them as they hadn't been caught after three killings. Personality variables would be a better factor to research.

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1.3.2 Canter & Heritage - Bottom-Up Approach

Aim: To identify a behaviour pattern from similarities between offences.

Method: Content analysis of 66 sexual offences from various police forces committed by 27 offenders was conducted to find 33 offence variables that were clearly linked to a potential behaviour characteristic.

Analysis: Data was subjected to smallest-space analysis.

Results: Central behaviours included: vaginal intercourse, no reaction with the victim, impersonal language, surprise attack and victims clothes were disturbed. Less central behaviours included: attempted intimacy with the victim, sexual behaviour, overt violence and aggression, impersonal interaction and criminal behaviour and intent.

Conclusion: These 5 factors have been shown to contribute to all sexual offences but in different patterns for different individuals which can lead to understanding how an offenders behaviour changes over time or whether two or more offences were committed by the same person. This has become known as the 5-factor theory.

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1.3.3 Canter - Case of John Duffy

Method: Case study

CaseJohn Duffy, "The Railway ******" was a serial killer who sexually assaulted and murdered women aged between 15 and 32. The women were targeted near railway stations in and around London. Canter was invited by the metropolitan police to create a profile on the attacker. Canter based his profile on the locations of the crimes and the evidence of Duffy's behaviour. According to his profile, Duffy was a maruader who committed his crimes near his home.

Canter's preliminary profile suggested the suspect would:

  • Probably lived in area where initial crimes occured.
  • Probably lives with a woman but no children.
  • Mid to late twenties, light hair, 5 foot 9, right handed.
  • Job probably doesn't bring him into contact with the public.
  • Knowledge of the railway where the attacks happened.
  • Considerable sexual experience due to the variety of his sexual actions.
  • Keeps souvenirs from crimes.

Duffy was caught out of 2000 suspects after being reinvestigated in light of the profile and was convicted of 2 murders and 5 rapes however it was found that Duffy had a collection of 33 house keys (souvenirs) from the women he ***** and murdered.

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2.1.1 Pennington & Hastie - Order of testimony

Aim: To investigate the effect of story order and witness order and jurors' confidence on jurors' verdicts.

Methodology: Lab experiment.

Ps: 130 (paid) students at Northwestern and Chicago unis, USA.

Procedure: Ps listened to a tape recording of a trial presented with story order or witness order evidence. Ps then asked to respond to a questionnaire where they were asked to reach a guilty or not guilty verdict and rate their confidence on a 5-point scale.

Results: Story order is the best way to persuade jurors to reach a guilty verdict, story order resulted in more guilty verdicts across both prosecution items and defence items conditions. For prosecution items, story order resulted in 59% guilty verdicts compared to 31% in witness order. For defence items, story order resulted in 78% guilty verdicts compared to 63% in witness order. Greatest confidence was expressed by those who heard evidence in story order (either defence or prosecution).

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2.1.2 Cutler et al. - Expert Witnesses

Aim: To investigate whether hearing about psychological research from an expert witness, which casts doubt upon the accuracy of eyewwitness testimony, would affect a juror's decision.

Methodology: Laboratory experiment using videotaped mock trial.

Ps: 538 undergraduates taking introductory psychology course given extra credits.

Procedure: Ps watched a videotape of a mock, armed-robbery trial (following format of actual trial), in small groups (2-8 Ps), who following watching the videotape independently completed a questionnaire.

Results: 85% of jurors recalled what the expert witness (psychologist) said and used it to evaluate the quality of the witness testimony.

Conclusion: This suggests councils are wise to deploy expert witnesses in cases involving EWT as the expert witness can help to persuade juries.

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2.1.3 Pickel - Inadmissible Evidence

Aim: To investigate the influence on jurors of tesitmony ruled inadmissable by a judge.

Ps: 236 Ball State uni psychology students.

Methodology: Laboratory experiment.

Procedure: Ps listened to an audio recording of a fictional trial for theft. At one point a witness refers to the defendant as having previous convictions for theft. The defence lawyer objects that this is inadmissible evidence. A control group heard the trial without inadmissible evidence.

Results: Mock jurors who heard the evidence ruled inadmissible and who received no legal explanation were able to follow instructions and ignore the evidence, however those who heard the evidence ruled inadmissible and were given a legal explanation were more likely to find the defendant guilty and were clearly not able to disregard it.

Conclusion: Calling attention to inadmissible evidence makes it more important to jurors and they then pay more attention to it.

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2.2.1 Castellow et al. - Defendant Attractiveness

Aim: To investigate the effects of physical attractiveness of the defendant and plaintiff on jury decision-making.

Methodology: Laboratory experiment.

Ps: 145 psychology undergraduates from the uni of East Carolina who participated for course credits.

Procedure: Ps read a summary of a mock trial where a young secretary accused her boss of sexual harassment. They were shown photographs of the plaintiff and the defendant which had previously been rated on a scale of 1-9 on attractiveness. Ps were asked to rate the plaintiff and the defendant on 11 bipolar scales such as dull-exciting, nervous-calm, warm-cold.

Results: Physically attractive individuals were rated positive on personality variables ('Halo Effect'). Victim attractive: guilty 77%. Victim unattractive: guilty 55%. Defendant attractive: guilty 56%. Defendant unattractive: guilty 76%.

Conclusion: Findings show that appearance in court does have a powerful effect.

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2.2.2 Penrod & Cutler - Witness Confidence

Aim: To examine several factors, including confidence, that jurors might consider when evaluating evidence.

Methodology: Laboratory experiment using a mock-trial scenario.

Ps: 129 eligible and experienced jurors, as well as 538 psychology students.

Procedure: Ps viewed a videotaped trial that involved an eyewitness identifying an armed robber. Dependent Variable: Robber guilty or not. This was recorded using a questionnaire. There were 10 independent variables that were manipulated that were associated with the crime including:

  • Disguise - Heavily or lightly disguised?
  • Weapon focus - Was the weapon clearly visible or hidden?
  • Retention interval - 2 days or 2 weeks ago?
  • Witness confidence - did the witness claim to be 100% or only 80% certain they had identified the robber correctly?

Results: Witness confidence was the only statistically significant effect of the IVs. High witness confidence elicited 67% conviction rate. Low witness confidence elicited 60% conviction rate.

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2.2.3 Ross et al. - Protective Measures

Aim: To investigate the impact of protective shields and videotaped testimony on guilty verdicts and to find out if protective devices cause credibility inflation or deflation.

  • Inflation: Enhance child's credibility because jurors will perceive the child's testimony as them being protected from the negative effects of fear and trauma associated with confronting the defendant in the courtroom.
  • Deflation: Undermine a child's credibility because use of a protective device suggests to the jury that the child is fragile, in need of protection, and thus a potentially unreliable witness.

Ps: 300 college students taking an introductory psychology course, divided into 3 conditions.

Methodology: Mock-trial based on an actual court transcript. Actors played the parts of the witnesses and lawyers and a film crew recorded the mock-trial. Three versions were created:

  • Control - Child witness in full view
  • Screen condition - Child witness behind a one way screen
  • Video condition - Child gave evidence via a video link from another room

The trial involved a father accused of improperly touching the child while bathing and whether the touch was innocent or sexual in nature. Ps rated the defendant as innocent or guilty.

Results: There was no significant difference between conditions with all three conditions returning similar guilty figures, at around 50%.

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2.3.1 Hastie et al. - Decision Making

Aim: To examine the stages a jury goes through to reach a verdict.


  • Orientation Period
    • Relaxed and open discussion.
    • Set the agenda.
    • Raise questions and explore facts.
  • Open confrontation
    • Fierce debate.
    • Focus on detail.
    • Pressure the minority to conform.
  • Reconciliation
    • Attempts to smooth over conflicts, usually through humour.

Conclusion: Hastie's decision making stages seem to fit the behaviour of mock-juries very well, the assumption being made is that real juries behave in the same manner.

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2.3.2 Asch - Majority Influence

Aim: To investigate the effects of conformity to a majority when the task is unambiguous.

Methodology: Laboratory experiment.

Ps: 123 male students (from three different institutions), USA.

Procedure: P placed at a table with 6 confederates. P + Confederates were shown a card with a single line on it and another with lines A, B and C on it. They were asked which line length matched the original line. Confederates gave blatantly wrong answers.

Results: Asch found that individuals conformed in one out of three occasions. There were variations on the experiment where it was found that conformity rates remained steady from 3 confederates upwards with one real P.

Conclusion: Asch's study can be linked to juries as it highlights the effect of majority influence. During the deliberation process jurors may be more likely to agree with the verdicts of their colleagues, even if they think they are wrong so they don't stand out from the group, they may also believe that they themselves are incorrect and agree to be correct.

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2.3.3 Moscovici - Minority Influence

Aim: To see if a consistent minority of participants could influence a majority to give the wrong answer in a colour perception test.

Ps: 192 female Americans with no colour blindness.

Procedure: 6 Ps at a time were asked to estimate the colour of slides. All of the slides were blue of differing brightness. 2 of the 6 Ps were confederates. There were two conditions: consistent and inconsistent.

In the consistent condition, the 2 confederates called all 36 slides green. In the inconsistent condition, the 2 confederates called 2/3rds (24) of the slides green.

Results: Ps in the consistent condition yielded and called the slides green approximately 8% of the time whilst Ps in the inconsistent condition only identified the slide as green approximately 1% of the time.

Conclusion: It is important that those in the minority behave consistently if they are to influence the majority to change its viewpoint. Moscovici's study highlights how, during deliberation, jurors are able to influence their colleagues by being consistent in their views.

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3.1.1 Gillis & Nafekh - Planned Behaviours

Aim: To investigate the effect on recidivism rates of a community-based employment scheme.

Methodology: Longitudinal research.

Ps: Started with database of 23,525 offenders from Canada, 95% Male. Ps then matched on a range of factors including age, gender, sentence length e.t.c. After matching the sample consisted of 4640 males / 156 females. Offenders divided into two groups: those employed prior to release on a special employment programme and those who had not been employed.

Results: At the end of the study, 70% of the employed group remained on conditional release compared to 55% of the unemployed group and of those that did re-offend in the employment group, the time taken for them to re-offend was longer.

Conclusion: Being on an employment programme can play a significant role in reducing recidivism rates.

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3.1.2 Palmer & Connelly - Depression and Suicide

Aim: To compare depressive characteristics of prisoners who report previous self-harm and those who do not.

Method: Self-report.

Ps: 48 prisoners entering category B prison, all adult males from England. 24 reported self-harm, 24 had not (control group - matched to experimental group from remaining 99 of original 123).

Procedure: Ps were assessed on 3 scales on their arrival to prison, tests were administered orally if the prisoner had low literacy levels: Beck Hopelessness Scale, Beck Depression Inventory, Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation.

Results: On all of the tests prisoners who reported previous self-harm scored higher than the control group. It is impotant to monitor such prisoners during imprisonment.

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3.1.3 Zimbardo - The Prison Situation and Roles

Aim: To study dispositional (situational) explanation of the behaviour of guards and prisoners in a simulated prison environment.

Method: Field experiment.

Ps: 22 male students from Stanford uni selected from 75 as the most physically and psychologically stable. Self-selected sample: Ps replied to an ad. Paid $15 / day.

Procedure: Study meant to last for 2 weeks, prison constructed in uni basement. Ps randomly allocated role of guard or prisoner. Prisoners surprise arrest at home, processed at local police station, blindfolded and taken to prison. On arrival Ps were stripped, deloused and given uniforms: smock with number instead of name (deindividuation), no underwear, bald cap and light ankle chain. Guards wore reflective aviatior sunglasses, khaki uniforms and a baton. 

Results: Ended after 6 days, guards brecame progressively verbally aggressive. Prisoners passive, dependent and mood flattened after failed revolt on day 2, internalised prison referring to each other by number. 5 released early due to acute depression. Individual differences seen in guards: some passive / some tough but fair / some cruel. However, Zimbardo argued the study strongly supported dispositional explanation for prison brutality: individuals adopt roles created and supported by the environment. Prison creates destructive pathological relationships between students allocated roles of prisoners / guards.

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3.2.1 Mair & May - Probation

Aim: To investigate the experience of offenders on probation across England and Wales.

Ps: Random sampling of Home Office Probation Index database resulted in sample of 3299 offenders with a range of ages and offences.

Procedure: After not being able to contact approximately 40% of the sample and not receiving a response from some or receiving a refusal to take part, the sample ended up with 1213 Ps (82% Male / 18% Female). Interviews were conducted by independent researchers, questions were mainly closed, likert and multiple choice. Questions were designed to gain information about the respondents' backgrounds, their offending history and experiences while serving their probation service.

Results: An average of 47% of the sample felt that probation was very useful, with 37% saying that probation would stop them re-offending altogether.

Conclusion: The majority of those who participated expressed positive opinions about their experience of probation and their treatment by probation officers, however nearly a third of offenders went on to re-offend.

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3.2.2 Sherman & Strang - Restorative Justice

Aim: To look at restorative justice in practice and measure its effectiveness in terms or re-offending.

Method: A review article carried out on academic papers on resotrative justice in the UK and internationally. Collected using an internet search. 36 studies were found that compared re-offending rates for those who were part of restorative justice programmes and those who were not.

Results: Reductions in offending rates were found for violent and property crimes but restorative justice did not work in all cases. It was found to be more effective for cases with a personal victim.

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3.2.3 Eberhardt - Looking 'Deathworthy'

Aim: To investigate whether there was support for the hypothesis that black offenders with stereotypically black features are more likely to get the death sentence than white offenders.

Method: Laboratory experiment.

Ps: 51 raters from Stanford uni, mixed ethnicities.

Procedure: Analysis of the database of death-eligible cases in Philadelphia. In 44 cases a black man had murdered a white victim. Photographs of these 44 were shown to naïve raters, who did not know photos were of convicted murderers and were 'blind' to the purpose of the study, who were asked to rate their facial features on a rating scale of 1-11, 11 being very stereotypically black.

Results: The most stereotypically black offenders were sentenced to death approximately 57% of the time while the less stereotypical defendants were sentenced to death approximately only 24% of the time. It was also found that with a black defendant and black victim, perceived stereotypicality of black defendants made no difference in sentencing.

Conclusion: Black physical traits are associated with criminality, and in this case it appears that they influence sentencing decisions.

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3.3.1 Cann - Cognitive Skills Programmes

Aim: To find out if cognitive skills programmes were effective in terms of lower re-offending rates for a sample of women prisoners.

Method: Quasi-experiment.

Ps: 180 offenders who started enhanced thinking skills (ETS) or Reasoning and Rehabilitation (R&R). The control group comprised of 540 female offenders who did not participate in these programmes. All offenders were discharged between 1996-2000. 

Procedure: Re-conviction rates were calculated for 1 and 2 years after release, both ETS and R&R were examined for effectiveness.

Results: No significant differences were discovered between the treatment and non-treatment groups re-conviction rate. This could be because the treatment programmes were developed for males and females usually commit crimes for different reasons i.e. to support their family and substance abuse. The Ps also did not receive the full programme and delivery was inconsistent.

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3.3.2 Ireland - Anger Management

Aim: To analyse the effectiveness of an anger management programme on the behaviour and attitudes of young male offenders.

Method: Quasi-experiment.

Ps: 50 young male offenders who had completed a CALM (Controlling Anger and Learning to Manage it) course and a group of 37 who were assessed as suitable but had not taken the course.

Procedure: All Ps were assessed 2 weeks prior to the start of the course and were reassessed 8 weeks after the course, while the control group remained on a waiting list for intervention. Prisoners were given a cognitive behavioural interview where they were asked about their feeling of anger. They were also assessed for aggressive behaviour by prison staff using the Wing Behavioural Checklist (WBC).

Results: Pre/Post-analysis showed a significant reduction in the treatment group in both self-report anger feelings and in guard observation of aggressive behaviours, 92% of offenders showed showed improvement on at least one of the measure (self-report on aggressive behaviour or WBC) however 8% showed no improvement on both measures and even deteriorated in some cases. Control group: no changes in scores on either measure.

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3.3.3 Margolin - Ear Acupuncture

Aim: To investigate the effectiveness of ear acupuncture as a treatment for cocaine addiction.

Ps: 620 cocaine-dependent adult patients, 69% male from various US states.

Procedure: Patients assigned to 1 of 3 conditions: ear acupuncture (experimental), needle insertion - needle inserted randomly into ear (control) and relaxation - watched relaxing videos (control).

Treatments were offered 5 times per week for 8 weeks and financial incentives were provided for attending as well as drug counselling. Effectiveness of treatment measured by: retention in treatment; use of cocaine during treatment; urine samples; self-report of cocaine use as well as a structured interview at the end of the course.

Results: Cocaine use declined across all conditions during treatment but there was no significant difference between ear acupuncture and the control conditions.

Conclusion: The use of ear acupuncture on addictions proved no better than any other form of treatment such as relaxation methods.

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