The Museum is an internationally recognised centre for forensic research.
Our in-house experts - including taxonomic specialists, ecologists, anthropologists and geologists - offer worldwide consultancy services.
The Museum's analytical specialists are experienced in the preparation, analysis and interpretation of a broad spectrum of biological, mineralogical and material specimens. Our staff are adept at dealing with sensitive and confidential materials, such as forensic evidence.
Our forensic consultancy services are supported by our world-renowned laboratories, analytical instruments, reference material and collections.
We have security clearance for all UK police forces, and any case information the Museum handles is securely stored and marked according to the Government Security Classification Scheme.
What we offer
- collection of plant, animal and mineralogical evidence at crime scenes and post-mortems
- recovery of human remains at crime scenes
- analysis and identification of ecological and anthropological evidence
- preparation of expert witness reports and courtroom testimony
- advice for crime scene personnel and pathologists on collecting plant and animal evidence
- objective comment on the work of other forensic ecologists
- species identification of insect and other arthropod evidence in legal cases, for example in the contamination of foodstuffs
- bespoke training and lectures
- determination of the medico-legal significance of suspected human remains
- analysis of human remains, tool marks and trauma
- chemical analysis, microanalysis, and imaging and tomography services
- advice for police forces, pathologists, forensic service providers, expert witnesses and other professional organisations
Time of death determination
Insects found at crime scenes can provide vital information through the science of forensic entomology, if the evidence is interpreted correctly. The most common role for Museum forensic entomologists is establishing a minimum time since death, by analysing carrion insects on the body.
The primary role of Museum forensic anthropologists is to identify the deceased when the body’s condition makes using standard methods of identification difficult.
Information about age, sex, stature and ancestral background can be ascertained from remains that have been burned, dismembered, fragmented, or are in an advanced state of decomposition.
Our botanists can provide information on diatom evidence, plant growth rates and time since a disturbance at suspected crime scenes.
For example, the number and types of diatoms present in the major organs of drowning victims will reflect the ecology of a particular area, providing a record of where an individual drowned. Comparisons of vegetation can be used alongside other forms of environmental data to link suspects to crime scenes, and interpret the time interval since the deposition of human remains.
Customs and excise support through species identification
Museum experts frequently examine materials seized at UK airports and seaports. Our staff’s skills include identifying feathers, animal skins, osseous (bone) and keratinous (horn) materials, as well as marine and terrestrial ivories.
The Museum can assist in the detailed characterisation of minerals, rocks, ores, concentrates and waste products. Our inorganic analysis services are supported by our state-of-the-art analytical laboratories, libraries and extensive collections of well-characterised minerals, ores, rocks and gemstones.