International Edition Volume 12 (2022)

Rudolf Archibald Reiss and the Importance of Forensic Science

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Aline Girod-Frais, Julia Anna Kappler

One of the most important postulates in the field of forensic science goes “tout contact laisse une trace” (Locard 1920), or “every contact leaves a trace”. While committing a crime, it is difficult, if not downright impossible, to avoid all contact, no matter whether the form of the committed crime is traditional (physical) or modern (electronic transaction). The aforementioned postulate can therefore be adapted as follows: “Each crime leaves a trace”. The desire to track down criminals is probably as old as humanity itself, and several personalities have dedicated their life to this subject, including Hans Gross in Austria, Alphonse Bertillon and Edmond Locard in France, and Paul Kirk in the United States. This article deals with one such man who, despite his merits, has remained somewhat unknown, especially in the German-speaking countries: Rudolf Archibald Reiss. Reiss put his entire life at the service of science, more precisely at the service of forensic science, and became an important pioneer in his field at the beginning of the 20th century. But who is Reiss? What are his achievements and why does he deserve special attention when it comes to the definition of modern forensic science? The purpose of this article is to discuss these questions. We start by providing important definitions before presenting Reiss’s life and work. Based on the aspects of Reiss’s work, which form the fundamentals of modern forensic science, the article then looks at the international status and practical application of forensic science and describes necessary developments. The conclusion emphasises the need to (further) spread Reiss’s vision around the world in order to reach a better understanding of criminality and its traces, as well as better communication between the various actors in the field of forensic science.

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The Involvement of the Criminal Police in NS-Euthanasia

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Simone Loistl

Hartheim Castle, near Linz in Upper Austria, was one of six euthanasia centres in the German Reich from 1940 to 1944. During “Aktion T4”, people with disabilities and mental illnesses were murdered between May 1940 and August 1941. After the “Aktion” was stopped, operations at the “Hartheim Regional Centre” (“Landesanstalt Hartheim”) went on, with the murder of inmates from the concentration camps at Mauthausen, Gusen, Dachau and Ravensbrück (“Special Treatment 14f13”) and forced labourers continuing into the late autumn of 1944. A total of 30,000 people were murdered in a gas chamber in Hartheim during this period. One might initially be tempted to hold the medical sector responsible for organising Nazi euthanasia, but the fact that the police – in particular the criminal police – played a decisive role in all phases requires closer consideration. The following article is intended to outline how diverse the involvement of the criminal police was by bringing together the current state of research on the criminal police with the history of the Hartheim killing centre and the murder of people who were accommodated in psychiatric institutions.

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Forensic Linguistics. A forensic discipline in Germany

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Eilika Fobbe

As a forensic discipline, forensic linguistics has been established for many years at Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) under the designation of “author identification” and therefore occupies a special position, not only in Germany. Its tasks include analysing incriminating texts from a wide range of offences on the one hand and managing the National Collection of Incriminating Texts on the other which, beyond performing corpus queries and other investigative functions, also supports the police in their forensic activities. This article presents the possibilities of linguistic text analysis, the most important theoretical foundations, the procedural steps and the relevant methods. While forensic linguistics at the BKA is closely connected to other forensic sciences and exhibits a high degree of professionalism, further development potential exists for the training of forensic linguistics expertise beyond the BKA.

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Coat Collar and Trouser Fly. Strategies of suspicion and presumptions of dangerousness in the field of criminal science around 1900

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Christian Bachhiesl

Modern criminal justice and criminal science developed alongside modern statehood. However much these institutions strive for objectivity and emotional distance, the state system of punishment has never got by without suspicions, and suspicions are always associated with presumptions of dangerousness. This article makes use of examples from the early days of criminal science, above all statements made by the Graz criminologist Hans Gross and his colleagues, to show how attempts were made around 1900 to perfect the system of state legitimised strategies of suspicion and how the system was connected with the stigmatisation of deviant and disadvantaged groups, not least those that were already restricted in terms of self-fulfilment, such as women or so-called “gypsies”. This gave rise to the paradox that the state essentially placed every citizen under general suspicion, but expected these “suspects” to place unlimited trust in it and approve its increasing appeals for regulation in ever more areas of life. But how can an institution whose efficiency is based on suspicions awaken trust? And what problems crop up when considering these questions for the discipline of criminal science? The historical analysis reveals how important these questions also are for the situation today, even if history is unable to solve today’s problems. We will have to take care of that ourselves.

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Who is a Victim? The Concept of Victim in the Victims’ Rights Directive. A human rights analysis of the concept of victim from a gender-specific perspective

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Sabine Mandl, Julia Planitzer

The article deals with the concept of victim as used in the Victims’ Rights Directive (Directive 2012/29/EU), subjects it to a human rights analysis, and casts light on it from a gender perspective. Violence and victim are categories that are socially constructed and recognised through social processes. Over recent decades, politics and science have increasingly engaged with the needs of victims and with the development and structuring of victims’ rights. Who is recognised as a victim and what is defined as violence plays a role in this. Depending on this, people affected by violence have a right to protection and support, and are able to assert specific rights in civil or criminal proceedings. However, the manner in which the concepts are couched as well as the legal definitions, including with respect to human rights, vary depending on the perspective. As (human) rights are always an expression of social reality, a differentiated examination of various forms of violence and victimisation appears relevant given the background of socially constructed images of masculinity and femininity. After analysing the origins of the concept of victim and the application of the Victims’ Rights Directive in selected European Member States, the article concludes with considerations on the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) by the EU and its possible legal and political implications.

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School Resource Officers – for more Security in Schools

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Cindy Ehlert

Minors spend a large part of their life at school, so it can be assumed that this time shapes not only their legal conduct, but also how they behave generally at work and in social settings. Teachers are therefore accorded a special role within this setting. They should convey knowledge in a way appropriate to the target group and ideally also work towards every single pupil conducting themselves in a positive, socially adequate manner overall. In a world of constantly new, criminologically relevant phenomena and associated harmful influences and dangers, the latter appears to be a task that could and should be shared amongst broader shoulders. This is where the school and policing system in the USA recognises the concept of a School Resource Officer (SRO), i.e. a policeman or policewoman who is based permanently in schools and who acts, amongst other things, as a point of contact for the schoolchildren. More intensive contact between school and police can be entirely beneficial in a preventive sense and goes beyond the scope of regular contact with police officers, e.g. at prevention events held in schools. This contact could contribute to the better and faster identification of risks (e.g. agreement on 24-hour challenges (tz online 2019)) in the school environment, in particular for explaining criminal matters or facts harmful to young people, and for using them as an approach to sensitising all target groups in the educational sector and thus, in the best case scenario, ensuring an increase in security. The concept of the SRO as practised in the USA (Minnehaha County 2019; NASRO 2019) with a direct uniformed police presence as school police officer, could help reach this objective from a criminological perspective. This article discusses the question of whether such a staffing concept could also be of value for the German school system and focuses primarily on the example of the federal state of Brandenburg.

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Police Investigations in “Loverboy” Cases. The modus operandi of “loverboys” – challenges of law enforcement in dealing with the offence of trafficking in human beings

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Mascha Körner

Law enforcement in dealing with the offence of trafficking in human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation – or forced prostitution, as it has been called in German criminal law since 2016 – is associated with many challenges. The time and staffing resources the police have to deploy to initiate and successfully conclude an investigation is enormous and continues to be heavily dependent upon personal evidence in the form of credible statements by (victim) witnesses. At the same time, the willingness of victim witnesses to give evidence is low as a general rule. Apart from the fear of reprisals by the perpetrator, the willingness to testify can be influenced by shame, a lack of trust in the law enforcement agencies or a low level of victim awareness. In so-called “loverboy” cases – a modus operandi in the offence of trafficking in human beings/forced prostitution – a further obstacle arises: through the phoney love affair, the victims establish an emotional bond with the perpetrator, which complicates detachment from the predicament. Access to the affected people is correspondingly difficult. This article casts light on these and other challenges from the perspective of law enforcement practice and derives concrete tips and recommendations for initiating proceedings and clarifying the facts. The findings come from qualitative interviews with police officers in Germany, who have focused on the area of trafficking in human beings and organised crime for an average of nine years. They were surveyed in preparation for a PhD project on the “loverboy” method in the period from 2017 to 2019, communicatively validated and additionally checked for topicality and supplemented with further themes through the expertise of the department of the Lower Saxony State Criminal Police Office.

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SWaPOL – Social Work and Policing. Professional further training for Social Work and Policing

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Günter Stummvoll, Christiane Reischl, Christoph Dück

“SWaPOL – Social Work and Policing” is an education and training project for improving cooperation between the professional groups of social workers and police prevention officers. The project was supported in the EU programme “ERASMUS+ Strategic Partnerships” and concluded a short while ago. The goal of this project was the development of a curriculum for joint professional further training. SWaPOL thus supports the professional exchange on the mission, organisational structures and working practices of the two professional groups and contributes to better cooperation on the development of prevention projects and day-to-day professional practice. Following pilot training courses in the partner countries Austria, Portugal and Belgium, a curriculum (didactics and teaching material) in English and in the respective national languages is now available at the end of the project. Working strategies such as Community Policing, Streetwork and socio-spatial community work exist at the interface of the two professions and form the basis for developing prevention concepts for substance consumption by young people and general disorder in the public space. The present curriculum of the SWaPOL training course now enables a partnership between policing and social work to be sustainably emplemented at local level.

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