ForAnth News Alert #1

This morning, The Courier published an article about a UK professor from Dundee University on the significance of her discipline: forensic anthropology.

Sue Black is the go-to gal for identifying human remains in Britain. She gave a talk on Saturday and spoke to reporters before the event.

Black has experience with war crimes, natural disaster aftermaths and international crimes in addition to the somewhat everyday sort like murder.

On March 5, the University and Black will be hosting events for International Women’s Day as well as a talk entitled “International Crime,” featuring important officials.

This is all cool, but what I like about this article is its attention to improving forensic anthropology in legal contexts. The University is taking its own steps to help this along with its development of a new research center for forensic science.

“My principal role is identification of victims,“ Professor Black explained. “This is something that has become increasingly important in the modern international judicial system.”

I also enjoyed Black’s analysis of how forensic science is changing.

“There is always the old school science that says a body has to be identified using forensic science, but a lot of the work we do is now in the identification of the living,” Professor Black said.

If you’re wondering how that is applied, a good example is one which she and her team have been honored for.

“This guy in Manchester has gone down for 15 years for the rape of a two-year-old girl. He videoed it and drugged the child so that she would be compliant. It’s horrendous. Up until that point he had said ‘no comment no comment no comment’, but when our report came in identifying him from his anatomy in the video, it was ‘ok then, change of plea’. That change of plea is incredibly important because you save a shed-load of money in the court room which is important for the public purse, but much more important it means that little girl and her family aren’t having to give evidence in court.”

It’s amazing what forensic anthropologists can accomplish. The best part is, most people don’t realize what they are capable of. Imagine the surprise of this sex offender when he was identified based on his body structure.


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