Crime Scene Californians Investigate Scottish System

09 August 2012

Crime Scene Californians Investigate Scottish System

The students at work in the lab

Students from California State University Long Beach (CSULB) have arrived at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) for a summer school in comparative forensic sciences.

The packed three week course – co-organised by GCU’s Dr Mahesh Uttamlal – will see the students studying everything from fingerprinting techniques to the operation of the Scottish prison system.

A number of cultural events will complete the Americans’ introduction to Scotland, with a trip to Edinburgh, Stirling Castle and a whisky distillery.

Beginning on July 29 and ending August 17, the itinerary includes a number of forensic science sessions in the University’s laboratories, an introduction to the Scottish legal system and a trip to Strathclyde Police headquarters, where students will work on police training methods including riots.

The students are accompanied by CSULB academic in criminal justice and forensic studies Professor John Wang.

Dr Uttamlal, lecturer in chemistry and forensic science, said the summer school was the result a chance meeting between GCU’s international office and representatives of the Californian university.

He said the visiting students were majoring in criminal justice and forensic science in the US:

 “What we’re trying to do in three weeks is give them a flavour of how the criminal justice system works in Scotland so the students can go back and make comparisons with the US system.

“The exchange is good for the University and it’s good for the students too. Every education system does things slightly differently and it’s good to get a new perspective on how the visiting academic – Dr John Wang – does his teaching. For the students, the international experience really adds that third dimension to their qualification.”

Travis O’Neal, 23, one of the students, said:

“This is a different learning experience to back at the school in California. We’re doing a lot more hands on work here. The subject of forensics seems to be treated differently in the Scottish courts. Here there is more of an emphasis on probability, rather than saying it was definitely this guy or that guy. I would love to come back and study some more here. I think this place is fantastic.”

Priscilla Lara, 21, also from the group, added:  

“I’ve always been interested in the detective thing - doing research and finding out what is going on behind the scenes, like in CSI. I’m inspired by some of my favourite shows. They showed us pictures of murder cases during a lecture the other day – that was fun.”


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