New Plymouth CIB / Crime Scene Forensics

If you saw people at WITT in white lab coats entering a police restricted area on the top floor of A Block - its okay, Christine, Michael, and the NRG students were on the case!

Christine and Michael Fenton developed and ran a series of 3-day CSI Forensic workshops at the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki. The workshops proved extremely popular and won Christine an award for Innovation and Excellence.

The TV show CSI revolves around a team of Las Vegas forensic Crime Scene Investigators.

Our heroes fill dual roles as both police detective and scientist, relentlessly analysing every detail at the scene of the crime, no matter how seemingly irrelevant or grotesque in nature. These super sleuths have science and experience on their side to solve any case!

Our award winning 3-day Forensics courses highlighted that crime scene investigation relies on two different specialist roles; the the laboratory based forensic scientists and the crime scene based police officers and detectives...

Local investigators from the New Plymouth CIB tell us how it really is...
  • Detective Senior Sargeant Grant Coward,
  • Constable Katrina Bunning,
  • Senior Constable David Armstrong.

The New Plymouth CIB team set up a crime scene and used this to introduce the concepts of identifying and collecting physical evidence.

Students worked in teams to try and determine who the offender was and what happened at the scene.

Senior Constable Armstrong acted in his real-life role as Scene of Crime Officer (SOCO) guiding each team and dusting for fingerprints.

Constable Bunning gave advice and noted how the teams performed which provided valuable feedback later on.

Detective Snr Sgt Coward teaches one of the teams how to record fingerprints.

He also talked to the class about career opportunities in the police force and some of his experiences working in the CIB.

Spot the two members of the New Zealand Fire Service who took part in the workshop...(see the class photos below!)

Scientists Michael and Christine Fenton taught the lab classes and discussed career options in Forensic Science and the work of the ESR.

The teams also carried out a barrage of lab tests as part of their attempt to determine the identity of the offender.

Students learnt about blood typing, extracting DNA, hair and fiber analysis, stains, developing latent fingerprints, plaster casts, and chemical tests.

A demonstration of LUMINOL used to detect minute traces of blood at a crime scene or on clothing was awesome.

The message from both the scientists and the police was simple: The offender will get caught!

Students carry out a DNA fingerprint test that backed up other evidence to confirm the identity of the offender.

Extract your own DNA here...

Carry out electrophoresis here...


Forensic Science is the application of science to matters of law.

As our knowledge and technical expertise in science increases so does the complexity and importance of the science presented to the courts in the legal system.

These students now have some knowledge and experience of

  • Crime Scene definition
  • Types of crime scene
  • Identifying relevant physical evidence
  • Collecting and preserving evidence
  • Processing relevant physical evidence

Thanks to NRG members Ryan Hill and Jargil Santos for being good sports when "arrested" on day 3 as the offenders.


Forensics Websites

The students used the internet to learn about ballistics, wound entry points, forensic entomology, forensics toxicology and anything else they found interesting.

Careers: The New Zealand Police and Forensic Science

The New Zealand Police website with loads of information including careers advice

Environmental Science and Research Ltd

ESR is contracted to provide Police with a one-stop forensic service. This includes managing a databank of DNA samples, and analysing illicit drugs, body fluids, physical evidence from crime scenes, and blood taken from drunk drivers. ESR also services and calibrates Police breath testing equipment.

From Crime to Court - the work of a Forensic Scientist

Frequently Asked Questions

Kiwi Careers - Profile of a Forensic Scientist


Courses: Auckland University and ESR

ESR:Forensic, the suppliers of forensic science to the New Zealand Police, and the University of Auckland jointly introduced in 1996 a set of postgraduate qualifications in forensic science.

These are the Certificate of Proficiency, Postgraduate Diploma and Master's in Forensic Science.



General Training and Simulations

Forensic Science: The FBI's handbook on Forensic Science.

Forensic Timeline Site A list of how forensics developed throughout the ages.

Newsweek's Article: "Down on the Body Farm" where donated or unclaimed bodies end up simulating victims so forensic experts can study decomposition, etc.

Extract Human DNA - your own! A simple explanation about cells and DNA with an original technique to see your own DNA.

Gel electrophoresis demonstration at home or at school The use of electricity to seperate molecules in solution. The basis for DNA fingerprinting.

Quick-solve stories

Microscope activity

Interactive Investigator

Murder in the Science Lab



Basics of forensic anthropology

OsteoInteractive: Forensic Anthropology

Radioactive decay

A tour of human bones

Skeleton lab

Facial reconstruction

Reconstructing a face



Fire cause and origin

Point of Origin

The Fire & Arson Investigations



Ballistics introduction

Ballistics basics

The Smoking Gun



The Luminol test

Blood analysis

Blood types tutorial

More on Luminol

Blood spatter analysis


Crime scenes

Crime scene response guidelines

Articles on protecting a crime scene

Examining a major crime scene

Forensic Photography for the Crime Scene Technician

Time of death

The Art and Science of Criminal Investigation

Crime Scene Cleaners carve out a gory niche


Dentistry and Odontology

Odontology introduction

Bite marks as evidence

Saliva: your spitting image



Extract Human DNA - your own!

Gel electrophoresis demonstration at home or at school

DNA detectives lab

Dept. of Defense DNA Registry

DNA forensics

Basics of DNA fingerprinting

DNA profiling

An intro to DNA testing for non-scientists


Entomology - Insects in Legal Investigation

Introduction to forensic entomology

Basics of forensic entomology

The use of insects in death investigations

Forensic Entomology Pages, International.



Introduction to fingerprints

Overview of fingerprints

Techniques for gathering fingerprints

Fingerprint FAQ


Hair and Fibre analysis

Hair and fibres introduction

Basics on hair and fibres

Hair and fibre at the crime scene

Photo gallery

Trace evidence


Handwriting and documents

Examining questioned documents

Documents introduction

Document analysis

Forensic Science document analysis


Shoe and tyre prints

Impression evidence


Shoe and tyre examination resources




Toxicology introduction

Basics on toxicology

Poisons and antidotes

Forensic Toxicology

Food forensics


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