The geoforensic search strategy: A high assurance search method to assist law enforcement locate graves and contraband associated with homicide, counter terrorism and serious and organised crime

Laurance Donnelly, Mark Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Geoforensic Search Strategy (GSS) is a model to apply in searches to locate burials including homicide graves, terrorist and criminal hides. The objective of this paper is to introduce the GSS to forensic geologists, police and law enforcement in Japan. The GSS has been developed and refined over a period of approximately 25 years and brings together mineral exploration, engineering geology,ground investigative techniques and conventional law enforcement search techniques. This blended approach provides for the first time high assurance methodologies in searches for burials. The GSS is divided into three main phases. In the pre-search phase, the search type is determined and the role of the forensic geologist in supporting law enforcement is defined. The pre-search phase is based on the production of a conceptual geological model (CGM), based on available geological data and information, police intelligence and supplemented by a reconnaissance walk-over survey of the search area. CGM provides the basis for the evaluation of ground diggability and detectability and helps determine the suite of search assets likely to locate the burial (e.g. geophysics and detector dogs). The search phase represents the actual deployment of the search in accordance with an agreed standard operating procedure (SOP). This commences with the establishment of geophysical and detector dog controls to verify whether the search assets are fit-for purpose. This also enables geophysical equipment calibration and, if required, the training of law enforcement search trained officers to become familiarised with the search assets. The post search phase focuses on the forensic recovery and recording of any items found. Finally, a briefing with the search team takes place and a pre-determined exit strategy. The GSS provides a framework that can be adapted or adopted to suite the particular set of circumstances unique to each ground search.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-458
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the Geological Society of Japan
Volume126
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020

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