In Turkey, first forensic science practices are based on the work of classification and evaluation of fingerprints along with anthropometric studies to identify criminals. First anthropometry system was used in Istanbul in the year of 1899. To ensure the safety of people, judges who are responsible for the security and order of the city were giving documents to people who leave his/her residence or wants to go to other cities. These documents were recorded. These types of documents also requested from strangers coming to city. Some specific features (blind, lame, brown etc.) were recorded on the documents to describe features and appearance of the person. The system called anthropometry, firstly used by forensic expert named Alphonse Bertillon (1853-1914), based on a simple but useful measurement system that provides the opportunity to specify and determine appropriate features of wider range of people by identifying differences and similarities of individuals or groups with various factors such as anatomy, geographical regions or professional life.
In 1910, the use of fingerprints gained momentum with the studies initiated by a Hungarian-born Muslim refugee, Yusuf Cemil Bey in Istanbul. Then, with the foundation of “Dactyloscopy Department” these studies have been practiced in a more systematic way.
In the following years, the curriculum of polices schools re-designed to include the fingerprint techniques as a course. With the opening of Police Academy (formerly named as Police Institute) in order to increase student’s knowledge and experience in technical aspects, a small “Forensic Laboratory” was established. This was the first step of the establishment of today’s Police Forensic Laboratories. At first, a small number of students were attended laboratory studies. In these studies and practices, teachers worked with the assistants personally and students had a chance to observe these works.
During the World War II, Prof. Poyad from Switzerland contributed the trainings of Ahmet SÖYLEMEZ, Bahattin KİRMAN, Bedir TANG ve Emin GÜVEN who were considered as the founders of today’s forensic laboratories and first forensic experts of Turkey.
The engraved serial number on the gun, seized during an assassination attempt to Von Popen who was German ambassador in Ankara, has been made visible by applying hydrochloric acid. This case provided opportunity to introduction and spread of forensic studies. Since then, with the tempo of the rapidly growing demands from police units and judicial authorities, forensic science services have been developed.
With the publishing "Police Criminalistics Laboratory Technical Service Regulations" in the Official Gazette No. 11698 dated 08.05.1964, expert reports began to be issued. To reach success with increasing momentum as a result of laboratory services; İstanbul Laboratory (founded in 1962) and İzmir Laboratory (founded in 1972) were reinforced in the technical sense according to the needs and conditions of the period with the purchase of a variety of hardware devices and instruments from FBI Laboratories. Also, in that time some laboratory staff has been sent to United States to gain knowledge and experience for specialization.
As a result of supplying trained personnel and laboratory apparatus, accurate expertise reports on the ballistic and counterfeiting issues were prepared. That situation caused an increase in the workload of laboratories and much more human resource was needed. For that reason, in 1967 Forensic Police Laboratories were entirely separated from Police Institute.
Considering the importance of laboratories in security services in the various provinces, to provide support in terms of staff need and equipment and a more efficient and effective coordination with relevant departments to carry out the laboratory services, with the approval in 01.03.1977 police laboratories were re-designed as “Department” in the organizational structure of Turkish National Police.
Today, under the name of “Department of Police Forensic Laboratories”, forensic science services are provided in ten different regional laboratories. Each of these ten laboratories established in different ten provinces and each of them serves for their own regions that cover total provinces (81) of Turkey. Respectively, 1962 in İstanbul, 1972 in Izmir, 1979 in Adana, 1981 in Samsun, 1983 in Diyarbakır, 1985 in Erzurum, 1997 in Bursa, 2001 in Antalya, 2003 in Kayseri and 2004 in Ankara were established. All of the ten laboratories are organized at the provincial level and they all placed under the “Departmenf of Police Forensic Laboratories” which is organized central level. Laboratories provide services in the fields of ballistic, biology, chemistry, questioned document-hand writing & signature, data, video-image, audio-voice, tool mark and anthropology.
Crime Scene Investigation
As mentioned above, a Hungarian-born Muslim fingerprint expert, Yusuf Cemil Bey accelerated efforts to initiate workings regarding fingerprint in Istanbul and in 1910 in İstanbul "Dactyloscopy Office" was established as a unit which carried out practices in a more scientific and systematic way. By taking fingerprints of thousands of criminal suspects and classifying with Henry-Galton system contributed to creating the first fingerprint archive. After the establishment of the fingerprint archive, criminals began to be identified by comparisons. It was clearly understood that fingerprints contribute solving unsolved cases. For this reason, police schools in Baghdad, Beirut and Erzurum started to have fingerprint techniques courses. After the foundation of Republic in 1923, fingerprint offices were opened throughout the country to meet the needs of provincial units. In 1930 these offices were placed under the “Science and Publication Bureau”, then placed under the “Public Order Department” with the name of “Technical Office”. In 1996, a new unit in a wider structure was organized with the name of “Identification and Crime Scene Investigation Branch”. However, due to some challenges and cooperation with CSI & laboratory units “Identification and Crime Scene Investigation Branch” re-placed under the “Department of Police Forensic Laboratories” in 2003.
Since the establishment, the working areas of the fingerprint were conducted within the following units;
1850-1910: Anthropometry and fingerprinting studies,
1910-1931: Dactyloscopy Office in İstanbul
1931-1970: 5. Branch of HQ of TNP,
1970-1980: Police Laboratories of HQ of TNP,
1980-2003: Department of Public Order,
Since 2003: Department of Police Forensic Laboratories.
Bomb Disposal and Investigation Unit
This unit started its activities in 1976 for the first time. In 24.10.1979, to evaluate and examine evidences of explosives with scientific and technical methods “Explosives Branch” was established under “Department of Police Forensic Laboratories”. In 2002, this unit was re-named as Bomb Disposal and Investigation Unit.
Department of Police Forensic Laboratories became a member of the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes in 2002.