If you are looking for Glamour, Gadgets and Grissom you won't find them here. Forget what you think you know about 'Forensics', these are the tales of one man and his brush. Of course these views do not represent the views of any Police Force or indeed reflect any Force Policies ya da ya.
Monday, 24 December 2007
Well, I have managed to keep this blog going longer than I thought and that is down to you good people dropping by every once in a while and leaving nice comments. So Happy Christmas to you and yours and I hope enjoy yourselves whatever your plans are.
Thankfully I'm not working this Christmas, so I'll miss out on the inevitable Suicides, crying kids (whose presents have been nicked by Billy Burglar) and the droves of Officers who say 'Oh!, I didn't know you worked on Christmas Day!, can you just check this.....'. Go away I'm trying to get all my work done so I can sneak off early!!
Anyway until the New Year have a good 'un and if you are working have a 'q' un! HAPPY CHRISTMAS!
Friday, 21 December 2007
I would liken this type of evidence to that of a fairly tenuous eye witness account, it gives you an idea of who it might be but not enough to be used as evidence. In general Policing terms it's better known as intelligence and not something that you would base your prosecution on. I'm not sure in what form this LCN evidence was used in the Omagh case but to base your whole case around it would be foolish and at most circumstantial.
It would be a shame however if the FSS withdrew this technique in future as it is a very useful intelligence tool. I have had some great results in previous jobs where an offender wasn't known and just being given a name has opened up so many other lines of enquiry and other evidence gathered has come back to these people. On the plus side at least some of the clueless Police Officers will stop asking for us to swab every door handle in sight on the off chance that the force may fork out a couple of grand to process them.
Monday, 10 December 2007
During the investigation the now homeless occupant turns up with a full and frank admission of starting the fire himself in the bedroom. Along with the Fire Officers we confirmed the seat of the fire in the bedroom, there were no other signs of forced entry (other than the size 9s of the first Fireman) or anything out of the ordinary apart from all his possessions now being a nice shade of black.
All that was required of me at this stage was photographs of the scene. This may sound like a quick task, but when it's pitch black outside and all the walls inside are pitch black the rules of photography change somewhat making it a more laborious task. In order to record all of the detail in a darkened room the use of flash is not enough as it creates as many shadow areas as it illuminates. So using timed exposures of between 15 secs and 1 Minute on a tripod mounted camera with fill in flash extends the average shot from a 125th of a second to a few minutes per shot. There will probably be at the very least four shots per room in a flat with six rooms so the total time of this type of job can take a good couple of hours.
Imagine my horror then when I had finally taken the last shot to find I had no film in the camera! There were a couple of officers still waiting for me to finish, hiding my mistake quite well I say 'Just changing films, got a couple of final shots to make and I'll be done.' Luckily at this stage it was very early morning and the sun was starting to poke itself over the horizon, so I quickly fly around all the rooms using the camera and flash handheld, five minutes later I have the shots I need, I pack up and leave. A week or so later the photos arrive on my desk and all things considered they didn't turn out too bad, not my best work but a lucky escape nonetheless. Thank god for Digital!
Tuesday, 27 November 2007
The reaction to this news always provokes wide range of responses, some people are very understandable and appreciate you've done all you can, others will expect it and would have usually uttered the immortal line of 'Your wont find anything mate!' as I walk in the door. Some, those that live and breathe the aforementioned TV shows, are absolutely disgusted that you haven't turned up with 3 other colleagues shining pretty blue lights, swabbing anything that fails to move and given the inside of their house a nice coat of silver. This is usually followed by the idiot mantra of 'You would do it if it was a Murder!', that's because a persons life is more valuable than an Elizabeth Duke bejewelled gold Clown Necklace.
Sometimes however, you will seize anything just to avoid giving the bad news as some people clearly have the worst luck in the world and your sorrowful apology will be the final nail in the coffin. On one such occasion a house had been broken into, simple insecure point of entry, small tidy search of a few jewellery boxes and off goes the offender his pockets bulging with a few generations jewellery. As I come to end of my examination, it is clear that the offender has been wearing gloves, due to the marks found on most of the things touched. Their wasn't any other useful evidence or a single usable fingerprint developed during the exam, yet I took away a few marks (of very poor quality that would surely cause hysterics at the Fingerprint Lab).
My reason for this deception was clear, this family needed a little bit of hope because they had lost all theirs. The family, a Father and his two Daughters, had been out during the Burglary, at the hospital for a follow up appointment for one Daughter after she had surgery to remove a tumour. The news wasn't good, it had returned, they had stopped off on the way home to visit the cemetery to update their recently deceased wife and mother and then returned home to find the house broken into. Amongst the Jewellery was a wedding ring, as the Father relayed this to me, he begins to cry causing his daughters to do the same. I diligently lift a few 'marks' , explain the possibility of the offender wearing gloves, but state that I will be submitting some mark anyway in case there was more than one offender or for some reason he removed is gloves.
I think they understood the futility of my actions, but they seemed to receive the news well and thanked me for my help. I still don't know if it was the right thing to do, it did help the situation, but I couldn't help thinking that it was a bit of selfish of me to deceive them just to avoid an unpleasant situation.
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
Story Time! All forces have their Career Criminals, those that have been in and out of prison as often as we have been in out of the house (to go to work and earn a honest living). Once they have been caught a few times they start to get wise to the sort of evidence they are leaving behind and are twice as careful the next time, thus reducing the amount of times they get caught and increasing their opportunities of ill gotten gains.
During the Summer Hols a year or so ago we had a large spate of Burglaries to Schools on our patch with ceiling mounted projectors being the swag of choice. These particular offences were drawing a blank on anything useful forensic wise, huge woolly glove marks and careful points of entry, so DNA and Fingerprints were sparse or more accurately non existent, we had some decent Footwear marks but without the shoes to compare them to they were useless. Everyone back at the station had their suspicions on who it was and he a local scroat who seen his fair share of cell doors.
I made it my personal mission to identify this chap forensically, not because of my social moral conscience but because I was sick of trying to track down Caretakers during non-term times and arrange convenient times to conduct examinations.
After drawing blanks on another few schools I turn up to a particular school who have been 'done' for the third time in as many weeks. Same story again, tidy point of entry, woolly glove marks all over the place, projector taken and a half decent footwear mark. Although this one was slightly different as a more thorough search of the classroom had been carried out. 'How has he had time to search through here, did the alarm not go off?' I ask the caretaker. 'Well the PIR sensor in here is a bit dodgy and he's sellotaped some paper over it!', 'Has he indeed!' If this had been a cartoon then a bright lightbulb would have appeared above my head as well as Double Helix strands in my huge eyes. See the sellotape had come from the teachers desk, but there were no scissors in sight for cutting, the edges of the tape were rough as if bitten off! So straight to Lab it went, it came back with the profile of the chap we all suspected it and whats more his shoes were match to at least 5 of the other breaks in the area. So it was goodnight from him for at least another term or so.
Sunday, 4 November 2007
OK, I am not fooling you with my pseudo management speak, truth be told I am running out of ideas and instead of sitting down and coming up with another insightful, intelligent and witty post I ended up revamping the site a little. As you may have noticed my posting has been a bit sparse of late, but I'm still getting people visiting here each day so I must be doing something right.
So if you have been visiting the site recently in the vain hope that I have posted another nugget of pure Blog gold then thank you and sorry for the lack of activity. I will be continuing to post as often as possible, but if you have any suggestions on what sort of things you would like me to post then drop me a line. If you are a CSI in the UK or indeed anywhere and you want to contribute with your own stories then let me know I'll be more than happy to oblige.
Finally if you have linked to my blog and I have not reciprocated then I apologise, drop me an email or leave a comment and I'll deal with it. Also my links section is looking a bit slim so if you want me to add a link let me know.
Saturday, 27 October 2007
The obvious problem with this is, that it is incredibly selfish to hope that a crime occurs, sufficient enough to need examining, just so I can start my weekend early. Of course crimes are not going to occur as a result of my wishes (unless there is a God and he/she is a bastard) but it goes to show that at times I am so far detached from the reality of my job.
In the end the decision to get called out is way out of my control, but I know that if I do I will treat the examination with my usual level of professionalism (as professional as you can get on 2 hours sleep), I will be thorough and do everything within my power to assist the investigation. But is it enough?, if you cannot emphasise with the victim are you giving 100% to this particular incident? Probably, probably not, sometimes not being emotionally involved in something can give you a clearer perspective and sometimes getting caught up in the drama can spur you on.
Either way there will be days when jobs will peak my interest and days when jobs pass by in a blur. Whichever way it goes I hope that it makes no difference to my contribution and I feel I have been doing the job long enough to know what I am doing. Still I think its healthy remember why I am doing this and put it into some sort of context within this world.
(Bloody hell thats a bit deep, think I need a beer!)
Thursday, 11 October 2007
Paperwork within the Police force seems to be the issue of the month for a few people, thanks largely to PC Copperfield's expose on Panorama.
Also Insp Gadget's rant further highlighted the plight of your everyday Police Officer once they make an arrest, the amount of paperwork and time this requires is quite frankly obscene and for what? Accountability? It seems ridiculous to me that the only way of getting a clearer picture on how well a Police Force is doing is to give them more paperwork to do and make them reach Home Office targets that don't really reflect the good work that goes on out there. There is an irony somewhere in all of that.
I am immensely lucky that the level of paperwork required in my job is pretty insignificant compared to that of an officer. A standard CSI report would be - I went to the job at this time, I recovered this, this and this, this is how it happened and this is where I'm sending my exhibits. Then if lucky, if it identifies someone then a 2 page statement is all that is required to add to file. The unfortunate thing for us is there is no real accountability in our paperwork, our stats would show, I've been to 75 jobs this month, recovered evidence from 55 jobs which so far have identified 4 nominals. Not a true reflection of my workload really, say that in that particular month I spent a whole week working on a Murder, this would count as one job, greatly reducing my daily average. Unfortunately, as is happening with one particular force at the moment, the management look at these figures and thinks, hold on were not performing as well we should, or there isn't as much work for these guys as we thought. Lets give them something else to do, or lets get rid of people and save some money.
The truth is there is a lot of good work that goes on out there by all staff in the Police, that is unmeasurable, or is not reflected as well on a management report. There are so many subtleties involved in all manor of situations that cannot be accurately represented on a piece of paper. So whats the answer?, If I knew that I'd be Home Secretary, what I do think is that there needs to be some balance in all of this and large amount of TRUST! We need accountability to a certain degree, so we know how to deploy resources intelligently, prepare for the unimaginable and ensure we are heading in the right direction. We also need to trust those out on the front line are doing their best and when not, that those responsible for them (Supervision etc) are trusted to deal with it appropriately.
It seems so sad to me that most of this paperwork is written so the Government can say, we did this, please vote for us again. I'm sure if Officers were allowed to get on with their 'proper' job everyday, we wouldn't need figures or graphs because we would all feel the difference. (but unfortunately feelings can't be measured).
Friday, 28 September 2007
I'm sure there will be a lot of competition for these posts, which may be a good thing as I couldn't get a decent cup of tea over in the US for love nor money, its a good job I took my own contraband with me.
This is Boston CSI Van, what do I get a an unliveried Peugeot Partner. Gah! the UK has no style! I bet even expensive shades and sharp suits come as standard issue.
Monday, 10 September 2007
Only when I arrive on his doorstep I can't shut him up, neither can his visibly worried wife of 50 years. Mr Munroe is explaining that some men have visited and taken £300 of cash from his house, pretending to be from the water board, and he wants to, no, he needs to tell me what happened as well as walk around the house to show me all the areas these lowlifes have been. Only when he has finished does he sit down and catch his breath.
He he angry?, not really, in fact he is very happy that I have taken the trouble to come see him and he is eager to tell me all that happened. You see Mr Munroe feels it is his fault that he as allowed himself to be conned, he has read all about these incidents in the papers and seen the warning on the telly, yet he feels partially to blame for allowing 3 grown men access to his house to distract and confuse him.
I hate these kind of jobs they piss me off more than anything else I have to deal with.
This is my last post for a few weeks, I'm going away and not a minute too soon.
Monday, 3 September 2007
Anyway some of you may feel that turning up for work hungover may be unprofessional, especially in my line of work. It can certainly impair judgement, sharpness and even effort in carrying out my duties. It can increase the levels of sickness within a small office causing undue pressure on my colleagues. Basically it's quite understandable that members of the general public will feel aggrieved that this sort of behaviour occurs and that they are not getting the quality of service they desevre.
Fear not!, being hungover and being able to perform my duties competently whilst terribly unwell and hungover is all part of our intensive 9 week residential course at a dedicated Centre of Excellence in Durham. Drinking lots and being hungover the next day whilst attending lectures and mock scenes is just part on the on-going enduring struggle that myself and my colleagues of the future engage in at these top schools of excellence. That is why we are always prepared to react positively when a crime occurs. You don't have to thank me, I do it because I love you all!
Monday, 27 August 2007
Unfortunately the work doesn't stop when I go off gallivanting, so here are a few guarantees of what tomorrow will bring.
- There will be several Photo albums on my desk all requiring Statements and Exhibit Labels
- Various Statement requests written on Post It notes on my desk which are needed urgently '..as the full file was due last week....'(how does that make it my problem!)
- There will be a bag full of treated exhibits to enter into the Property System.
- There will be a snotty note on my desk from my boss for something trivial I forgot to do before I went off duty last, like wash up or turn off my laptop.
- A mysterious cup and paperwork will have been left on my desk from someone who came into the office for a 'chat'.
- No working pens on my desk
- There will be a huge list of emails to trawl through, the most useless of which are usually the ones from a) a person you have never met's invite to their retirement do, b) someone who you couldn't care less about finally dropping a spoglette c) some jargon filled email from IT stating the Earth will be down, so consult your Oracle during the downtime and soon you Server will be up??? and d) the most useless of all emails, a message from Witness Warnings, asking for my court availability from now until the end of time for a case I remember little about and no useful details have been included in the text.
On top of all this I sure there will be a deluge of jobs mostly from companies who have closed for the Bank Holiday and have returned to find they have been broken into. Of course they will all be demanding they be visited straight away so they can clear the mess up and continue trading. I think I feel a stomach bug coming on....................
Wednesday, 22 August 2007
What is it about Police Tape that once erected around a scene it automatically becomes invisible to certain members of the community?. I cannot recall all of the times I have had to shoo people out of my scene because they didn't notice the Police Tape they just moved aside. It's there for a reason people! No you can't come past just because your mate lives on the other side of the road or it's the quickest route to the taxi rank and certainly not because you left you bloodied knife on the floor!
Also whilst I understand the initial intrigue and suspense of a cordoned off scene and the constant rubber necking why on earth do people stand on the cordons edge for hours on end. I have had families sitting on their garden furniture at 3 O'Clock in the morning, all dressed in Pyjamas and Dressing gowns watching me take photos and swab blood whilst drinking warm cups of tea. Now I don't mind an audience, but at least offer me a bloody drink!
The best kind of Scene lurkers though are the groups of drunk Women out on the town, I've had Bus loads of Hen Parties waving at me, girls trying to hug and kiss me and the odd inappropriate comment about swabbing and examining other areas. The only reason this annoys me is that it's possibly the only time I ever get any attention from drunk women, I'm thinking of wearing my white suit out next time I have a night on the town.
Wednesday, 8 August 2007
Now it's not nice being woken up in the middle of the night and getting re-called to work after you have already put in a late-shift, but if you have a decent scene to get you teeth stuck into and you know that your contribution will count in the whole scheme of things, then an interruption into your sleep pattern is a small price to pay. Plus you get paid overtime from the time you were woken up to the time you get back to bed.
However, we do get turned out to some shite jobs, that either didn't really require us or could have waited until the morning. Unfortunately when awoken out of a deep slumber you loose the ability to ask relevant and probing questions in order to determine whether it's worth leaving your pit for. Most of the time it's the Controller who phones you and they usually have no idea why you are required other than the Inspector has asked for you, so there must be a genuine reason. And then by the time you get out of bed and arrive at the scene, things have calmed down a bit and that messy scene covered in blood is actually a few spots on the doorstep of a pub exaggerated by whichever Officer first attended after getting caught up in the moment.
Controller - 'Hello its the Control Room here we need to turn you out'
ME - 'Urrgghh mmm urrr ......Mom? .......Err yes, Umm what for'
Controller - 'We've had an Arson and need you at the scene.'
ME - 'Err umm OK I'll be there as soon as I can.'
So I jump on my trusty steed and head off into the night! Arrive at the station like a bloodthirsty vampire only it's Coffee I crave, and guess what, I have to make my own!
Insp 'Ahh thanks for turning out, the scene's been closed since we last called you, but the officer has retrieved some evidence for you.'
ME 'Uhh Whaa Buhh.......'
Insp 'It's in the front office, gotta go very important see, toodles'
Constable in Front Office - 'Sorry mate, the Insp insisted you come to the scene before he even got there, turns out the petrol bomb didn't smash and the intended victim stamped on the wick and put it out. Now, have you got any Nylon bags?, and how to do you package these things?.....'
ME (dying a little inside) - 'Oh give it here, I'll do it for you, I'm out now, may as well earn my overtime..............mumblegrumblemuttter......'
Friday, 3 August 2007
I'm a statistic now! I'm a victim of Credit Card Fraud! Some bugger has been enjoying the high life in a Singapore Hotel on my bloody credit card details! Whilst he was drinking Champagne in a hot tub entertaining the local ladies for hire, I was putting in a days hard graft.
So today I have to phone the local station for a Crime Number. Fraud is an area of Police Work that I know little about, so I am not too sure on the chances of nailing this person are or indeed finding out how he came across my Credit Card details. If I had my way, I would be closing down the Hotel room, getting on the next flight to Singapore with my trusty case in hand and be 'Processing' the scene in no time. Of course in order to truly get into the mind of my offender, I would have to sample all the delights he did, on overtime as well!
Tuesday, 24 July 2007
I have every respect for the medical profession, I can't be trusted to be responsible for someones lunch order let alone their lives and like most Emergency services they work bloody hard, work unsociable hours, deal with lots of unpleasantness and their pay is inversely proportionate to their efforts. Very often in the 'Emergosphere' (D'ya like that? I just made that up)our paths cross, most commonly with Ambo Crews at various crime scenes and A & E Doctors when assessing a patients condition following a RTC/Attack/Fall/Failed Suicide.
Most of these people are sound level headed people who you would happily entrust you life too, there are however the very few who get a little excited and over-enthusiastic when dealing with Police incidents, we call this 'A touch of the Quincys' So far this year I have had a Life threatening injury end up as a common assault, a woman who was gang raped turn into some young girl who lost her virginity consentingly and a 'Shaking Baby Death' which was just a very unfortunate Sudden Infant death for a very very lovely family ( who were still lovely after all the interviewing and veiled accusation's)
Still it's a hard and stressful environment to work in, after all I managed to get a Urine sample from a deceased neck at a Post Mortem so we all make mistakes.
Saturday, 21 July 2007
I hate the rain, I'm stuck at home when I originally planned to drive somewhere along the welsh coast taking photos with my girlfriend and dog in tow. Instead I'm staring at a blank screen trying to think of some witty anecdote to swell the archives of my blog.
How I wish I was touring the coasts of New South Wales, Australia, unfortunately they only employ Police Officers as CSIs otherwise I'd be applying for the position Gargoyle vacated.
Tuesday, 17 July 2007
The good thing about working shifts is that you get days off in the week when everyone else is at work. This is great for shopping in town centres, as it is always quiet if you avoid the lunch hours.
I was sitting in one of those generic coffee shops pretending to be all hip, young and cosmopolitan with my Cappafrappemuchopenco coffee when I overheard a sales pitch from a very attractive woman to a couple of middle aged executive types and I though to myself 'Cor, fancy being at 'work' whilst in a coffee shop? And I bet they get paid loads for the privilege'
This caused me to consider my own vocation and how much I earn and you know what it made me feel good! I may earn a lot less than these chaps but I couldn't bear to work in the 'Business Industry' again, done it before and didn't like it, it was boring and un-fulfilling . It's important to me that I enjoy my job and I do, I also like to think I make a difference. I know it's a bit cheesy but at least I know the results of my hard work help in some way instead of earning more money for huge companies. The whole internal rant I was having to myself at the time reminded me of this: -
I'll go back into work tomorrow with renewed enthusiasm, not that the Business Industry doesn't have it place, it's jut not for me.
Friday, 13 July 2007
I don't usually like to criticize officers much especially as a) Most of those that blog, provide a link to me and b)relations between Civvies and Coppers are already frayed. But when they try to muscle in on my turf it gets me a bit grumpy.
Today I was rushed from a very important shopping errand (cakes for the Office!) to attend a Burglary where the Officer had announced to the victim that there were Footprints and Fingerprints everywhere and replayed this find across the radio. I looked at my colleague and we both rolled our eyes and groaned. 'Why?'you ask, shouldn't we be pleased that there is obviously evidence left at the scene helping identify an offender?. If that were the case then yes. But unfortunately experience has taught me that when an officer can see fingerprints they are usually dirty glovemarks and the footprints will probably be clumps of mud in the carpet.
Now this isn't a huge issue, you can forgive the Officers ignorance as over-enthusiastic optimism and they do not have that SOCO trained eye. But it does get the Victims hopes up, only for us to turn up and scupper them with a sharp intake of breath like a Car mechanic telling you bad news. Indeed this was the case today, the victim found it hard to accept at first because the nice Officer had told her about the 'evidence', but after a little explaining all was good and no cakes suffered as a result.
So if you are a Police Officer and you think you can see Fingerprints then they are probably not Fingerprints, when faced with this Paradox you should simply say 'Keep away/don't touch that area until the nice (handsome and rugged) Forensic Man turns up.'
Tuesday, 10 July 2007
Me, I'm an 'Angel of Mercy' apparently, I must have attended around about 30 - 35 potentially fatal RTCs (Road Traffic Collisions) out of those only three have died, one of which died before he crashed his car so technically that shouldn't count. Anyhow some of these 'collisions' have been pretty horrendous and occupants of which were very lucky to survive, so the upshot is, if your gonna have crash make sure its on my patch when I'm on duty. Alternatively Drive Safely :)
Thursday, 5 July 2007
All this half arsed terrorism we have been having lately reminded me of my debut on the front page of the Local Rag. I was at the scene of a 'Controlled Explosion' when the press turned up, it wasn't a white suit type of scene, so I was there in my normal work clothes and exposed face! (on a bad hair day no less). The photo on the front page had two pictures, one of the vehicle in question and another of me and the Inspector talking to the two EOD officers (Bomb Squad). The opening lines to the report read something like 'These were the dramatic scenes after a quiet *insert town name* street was sealed off for Bomb Disposal experts........', then a caption under my picture saying, 'Police and Bomb Disposal officers discuss events as the drama unfolds.' The Drama was actually me directing, with the help of the Inspector, the 'Bomb Disposal Experts' to the nearest Greasy Cafe!
Monday, 2 July 2007
I mean what a waste of money, with the increase in NO SMOKING signs recently, have we not already used taxpayers money to great effect to deter would-be-terrorists.
Sunday, 1 July 2007
One day I was walking my dog nearby the local station, on our way back home our paths cross with a couple of friendly constables, we exchange pleasantries and we continue home. The remainder of our walk is interrupted by some idiot on a Mini-Moto tearing up the pavement like a bad-boy 40 year old with no brains, which is not surprising considering he was a brainless boy in his 40s. Rotten luck thought I, he has just missed some of the Queens finest who surely would have reprimanded him quite tersely. I did think of phoning myself, but didn't want to be that person who phones constantly and I was hoping he'd give up and go home.
We continue our walk and the diminutive Barry Sheen turns a corner, seconds later more constables appear in a vehicle turning from another corner, I try to get their attention but to no avail and I feel another opportunity for justice has passed. Our walk continues with the distance sound of an overworked giant hairdryer motor singing into the evening.
We stop off at the local shop for a bottle of water, when who should walk in behind me, but our very own Easy Rider, looking very flushed he speaks and addresses all the patrons in the shop, 'I don't suppose any of you have found £40 in two £20 pound notes, they were in my pocket a minute ago and it's now gone?' ....... Silence! Oh how I laughed, twice this man was lucky enough to bypass the local fuzz and eventually he got his come-uppence . For once the Karma Gods were on my side.
Thursday, 28 June 2007
Today I went shopping with the goodly missus and, after unloading the boot of the car, she brought hatch door down on my head with a thwack! It bloody well hurt, I put my hand to my head immediately and when I removed it, it was covered in blood. Or so I thought, turns out it was Green and Blacks finest chocolate that I had been troughing whilst driving home. Now I have a large lump on my head and a bruised ego!
Wednesday, 27 June 2007
A bit like buses though, you wait ages for one and three turn up at once! On a Late shift I got called to a scene by Officers investigating a nasty smell from a particular flat of a person not seen for weeks. Upon entry the unfortunate chap had died and had been there for a few weeks, we don't usually attend if it is believed the death is of natural causes but because of the decomposition the officers wanted photos. Personally I think he just wanted me to check him for obvious injuries and he was too scared go near him.
No sooner had I finished with my photos than I get another call, another decomposed body at a different block of flats, CID were being called to this one as the Officers and supervision were suspicious because a coat had been draped over the body. Turns out he had pneumonia and he was trying to keep warm. When I finished with this body, the Officer said 'Are you going to the other one on the 3rd floor?', 'Other What?'' came my reply. 'Body, there is a Suicide down on the third floor, just been called in.'
What are the chances of that then?, 3 Bodies in one night is rare let alone two in the same block of flats. I know what you're thinking, are they connected? There was nothing at all to suggest it, but it did raise a few eyebrows around the station. I think some people just watch too much TV.
Monday, 25 June 2007
I once examined someones car where a Power Tool had been taken off the passenger seat via a smashed Passenger window, I turned to the victim and said 'I'm really sorry but there is nothing of value for us.' The victim was aghast and could not believe that I had failed him. He said 'If this had been a murder you'd have done more, I know how it works, you just don't care about the little crimes.' This is very untrue, if I could help identify a little scroat for vehicle crime then I'm sure if put away it would reduce a large amount of vehicle crime in that area, giving everyone a quieter life (for a few months anyway!).
Of course the victim was right, I simply said 'Yes we could do more, but it wouldn't be proportionate to the offence and the cost of doing so in man hours alone would outweigh any benefits, especially as I have another 10 jobs to visit today that are more promising evidentially than a broken window.' He still wasn't happy, especially when I advised him not to leave expensive items on show in his vehicle in future, the truth is I had done all I could within reason. To do a full examination on a vehicle can take anything between 4 - 12 hours, depending on the crime, and when I have other jobs with potential DNA evidence and People waiting to open businesses it's just not possible.
He threatened to make a complaint, which I encouraged by providing him with the Chief Constables details, my details and various phone numbers. No complaint was ever received as it was all just frustrated bluster, something I'm now good at spotting.
Friday, 22 June 2007
I have a real problem switching off at times, and if I go straight to bed after a Late or long shift I end up dreaming about work and then I feel like I have never left the place. I have tried to claim overtime for dreaming about jobs, but I've been told I get paid too much already.
Sunday, 17 June 2007
Change can be quite exiting, but the move isn't to accommodate us at all,no siree! it's all part of the SMTs obsession with creating Teams/Squads/depts that have limited use but do enough to disrupt everyone around them, then after a while when it doesn't work it all changes back to normal and we end up switching offices again. All at a nice cost to the taxpayer. Anyway the new team/squad/dept want our office for logistical reasons (it's nearer the vending machine.), so I'm hoping we get purpose made digs to sweeten the deal. I have decided to base my shopping list on the corridors of the Las Vegas Crime Lab.
1. I want all rooms to be Glass Partitioned, except for the Toilet.
2. I want a see-through 'whiteboard' to draw complex diagrams upon (and crudely drawn penises)
3. I want a lightbox as big as a Snooker table to do huge reconstructions on and to see which donut has the most jam in it.
4. I want at least 5 plasma screens in each room all showing exactly the same thing, and if possible have our crappy system enhanced by snazy graphics.
5. I want a huge glass cabinet with lots of Jars on them, and eerie lighting throughout the office to create that serious mood ala the X files.
6. A cabinet to shoot firearms into, preferably the cabinet that stores all our PDRs
A man can dream, I'd settle for a new Kettle though!
Thursday, 14 June 2007
I had completed my induction training and after having a few months shadowing an experienced CSI, I had my training wheels removed and I was free to tackle as much volume crime as you could shake a synthetic bristled stick at!
A small business premises located on an industrial estate had it's fax machine and a laptop stolen from the reception area during trading hours, the officers who had attended asked that a member of our team come along and 'throw a bit of powder around'. I turned up an hour or so later to examine the scene. Basically our suspect had merely walked into the reception area, taken the items off the receptionists desk and walked out. The desk was behind a partitioned wall and had glass sliding hatch, the Receptionist told me she usually keeps the hatch shut to cut out the noise from the factory across the road so our suspect must have handled the hatch.
'Great!' thought I, nice smooth shiny surface and a definite area handled by offender. So off I go with my powder twizzling a brush like an expert and I develop about 12 marks off both surfaces. 'Wonderful!', but then my brain kicked in, this is a Public area it may be hard to prove, but wait!, there is CCTV evidence available, 'Brilliant!'. The CCTV had yet to be downloaded from the system so was still available for me to view, so I sat and watched as our man walks in, takes a quick look around in that suspicious shady manner that only scroats can pull off, places both hands sideways on the glass hatch(exactly the position I had just recovered marks from) and pulls the thing open, grabs his swag and legs it out the door. Within the week our chappie is identified and away we go with charging, bailing, sentencing. Yours truly doesn't even make the stand to give evidence in court as our suspect goes guilty under the weight of evidence against him. So one bad guy in jail and my first notch on my brush.
Looking back, I wish all my jobs were that easy and all offenders were just as stupid. Although I was immensely proud of myself at the time, I now realise that any half trained Monkey with a brush could have solved that one.
Tuesday, 12 June 2007
Monday, 11 June 2007
The nearest activity to forensic work this weekend was conducting my own line search of the lawn for dog poo before cutting it. Amazingly I'm useless at finding anything at home, be it car keys, that shirt I like, my lucky pants, any number of pens etc, and yet I'm trusted to find evidence in the minutest of forms at work! Perhaps if I was being paid by the hour I might have more luck, then of course I would have to string it out longer than necessary to get a bit of OT (oh no he didn't......)
Thursday, 7 June 2007
Nowadays it not so easy to get into, what with it suddenly being a popular job and that some Universities and colleges now run degrees/courses. So for all those wannabe CSIs, here are some tips that I genuinely believe will help.
1.Do a college or degree course if you can, but don't think for a moment this will allow you to waltz into any job. Most Senior SOCOs/CSI's are likely not to have these qualifications and may even frown on them or indeed feel threatened. Prepare to be open minded and not full of stuff you learned in a classroom.
2. A background in the Forensic Field is not always necessary, nor is a degree or even A levels (in some forces). Previous work in the Public sector or dealing empathetically with the public will help. All the training will be provided if you get a job.
3. Be patient and be prepared to aim low. Some forces employ Volume Crime Scene Examiners or Vehicle Examiners, this is possibly the best way to get into the job as you will learn the fundamental skills required to become a CSI. If this fails apply for any job within your local police force (in any field) and work you way from the inside. A lot of CSI/SOCO jobs are advertised as Internal Only initially and there is always a lot of competition for these posts.
4.Do some Research. If you don't have a Forensic Qualification or previous background, then you'll need to research the job well, and no, having boxsets of CSI does not class as research, in fact don't even mention it in jest at a interview. Best way to research is to speak to people who do the job, try and get a Half an hour to talk with a CSI at your local station, or if you are at school or college try getting some work experience there. The internet is also full of lots of info. (try and stick to UK based sites as it is done differently everywhere)
5. Keep applying. A lot of vacancies get filled by established SOCO/CSIs looking to move forces or areas, when this happens they invariably vacate a post that will be advertised, chase the gaps and sooner or later you could get lucky.
Boy am I glad I got in when I did! To be honest it isn't the most difficult job in the world to do, most people with an ounce of common sense and intellect would have no problems, it's just the getting in is the hard part. Good Luck!
Tuesday, 5 June 2007
There were a few odd looking spots near the broken glass at the point of entry, in this case a kitchen window. Now the window frames were wooden and coated with varnish, which when spilled looks similar to spots of blood. Luckily we have some of these in our cases which help solve the problem. Basically they are used in the medical field to test for blood in urine, but they also act as a presumptive test for blood at a scene. It basically a thin strip of paper with a small yellow pad at the end which turns green when hemoglobin is present. So I use one of these fellas and unfortunately it's varnish, usually if negative I'll chuck in the bin, but for some reason I slipped it in my pocket. What I didn't realise is that it slipped out when examining the daughters bedroom (easy now!)
So about three hours later back in the office I get a very stressed mother on the phone. 'I think the Offenders have left something at the scene, we think it's a pregnancy testing kit, my daughter says it's not hers!'
I thought this to be very odd, and possibly naive on the parents part, so I agree to go back and check it out. On the journey down there I'am wrestling with my conscience, do I make believe that I think it's possible the offenders left it? to save the daughter getting into trouble? or do I have a quiet word with the parents about the social habits of their precious princess. In then end it didn't matter as it was the Hemastix strip I had left behind. Apparently the daughter and the mother had been arguing for hours over this and I was called to discredit her daughters claim that it came from the offenders. When I left for the second time the relief had replaced the anger in the house, but I could feel two pairs of eyes burning into the back of my head as I walked to my van.
Saturday, 2 June 2007
Looking back I'm glad I eventually got into SOCO, not that being a Officer would have been that bad, I just really wanted to do crime scene work (this was way before the likes of CSI Las Vegas etc..) I only wish there was more drama involved like in American cop shows. I have therefore made a list of my needs as a dynamic risk taking maverick CSI.
I want blue lights on my van, not overt ones but ones behind the grill and on the sun visors.
I want sparks to appear under my van when exiting the rear yard.
I want a holster for my brush, and my brush will be known as an inoffensive old womans name like Barbara or Enid.
I want to be able to use the expression ' The DA's breathing down my neck to clinch this case.' every once in a while.
I want the chief to say 'You're a maverick and a loose-cannon, you're suspended give me your badge and your brush.' and as I hand them over he looks at the Zephyr brush concealed in my socks and goes '..and the other one!'
I want to eat hot dogs and drink coffee from street-side vendors whilst talking passionately about my current case with my demographic pleasing ethnic sidekick.
I want a complex love life and alcohol dependency, that will inevitably cause me to loose my wife, who I then win back by saving her from bad men after a short spell in rehab.
I want to die in dramatic circumstances retrieving evidence that proves beyond doubt a serial murder case, when I have only two days until retirement.
It's not much to ask is it?
Thursday, 31 May 2007
A lot of officers degrade the jobs of Civvies, purely because they 'push pieces of paper' or 'count beans', this is because a lot of them have this god-complex that their work is the most important resource in the station (regardless of Response, Neighbourhood, CID etc). When the reality is they are just another area of policing and because of the void between what a average Police Officer does to the work an average Civvie does (by choice may I add again) this causes the tension, jealousy (sometimes) and friction, from both sides.
In a perfect SMTs wet dream we would all be a happy family working in diverse roles for the good of the community, but we know it's not like that and as long as there is that unexpected and ambiguous element to Police work and that rigid conformity and routine in Civvie work, there will always be friction.
Monday, 28 May 2007
I was mortified as I had only recently decided that SOCO was my vocation of choice, I was doing everything I could to impress our SOCO Dept and show them how enthusiastic I was. I'm surprised I ever got a job after that.
By the way I know this now renders any future moans about Police Officers not wearing gloves null and void. But I'll probably do it anyway, I was young and niave!
Saturday, 26 May 2007
I attended a Burglary once where a car had been stolen and the victim suspected his son of taking the car. There was no apparent forced entry and the son hadn't been seen since everyone in the household went to bed. Sure enough there was no obvious point of entry and nothing out of place in the premises, with things like digital cameras and mobile phones easy to hand.
I start having a look at the rear ground floor windows just to check for forced entry or any signs of disturbance, at this point the son returns home, I was safely out of sight on the other side of the kitchen door's frosted glass. The accusations start flying from the father and are heavily denied from the son. I move towards the outside of the Dining Room window, inside the Offices are writing their statements. Son sees the officers and continues to deny any involvement, then he suddenly stops looks out the window towards me and says 'Who's he?' to which the officer replies 'That's our chap from forensics, he is here to find out what happened.'. Son is suddenly looking very scared at this point, tears start to well up in his eyes and then he confesses the whole thing, how he took his dads car keys, couldn't find the house keys, climbed out the dining room window, went to a party in his dads car and left it two streets away with the keys still in it.
Dad decides not to take it any further after the other office locates the car safe and well, but just as I walk out the door to my van I spot a row of about 15 DVDs neatly stacked beside the television in the lounge, on each of their spines was ther acronym 'CSI'.
Wednesday, 23 May 2007
There are ways of dealing with this though, you can be firm and stand your ground and hopefully gain some respect, just powder everything in sight that the boss thinks has been touched or attempt to make them look stupid in front of their staff by blinding them with the science of fingerprints, DNA etc hoping they'll take the hint or accept that you know what you are doing.
A colleague of mine found a way of silencing 'The Boss' purely by accident at a job he attended (years and years ago). The MDs office had been screwed, computers, petty cash, fax machines all taken. Along with these items a silver Tea - Pot was taken from on top of the large glass meeting table. By the time the SOCO (as was) had got to this part of the exam he was sick of powdering everthing in sight. The conversation went something like this.
MD 'Maybe you should have a look at the table where the Teapot was'
SOCO 'Oh I doubt they would have had to touch the table to pick something off it' (It was a huge table.)
MD 'Please could you check'
SOCO 'There really is no point, and you would have a job cleaning it after'
MD 'I want you to try it, examine the table!'
The remainder of the conversation carried on like this and by this time there were other senior members of staff and his secretary in the room. So begrudgingly our SOCO starts powdering the table, the marks he developed on the table confused him at first until he saw the red faces of the MD and his Secretary and the smirks on the faces of their colleagues. What he actually developed was a clear arse-print and accompanying legs (female) and what can only be described as a blur of movement between them. 'A bit of hot soapy water will wash away the powder, err I have other jobs to attend........'
Tuesday, 22 May 2007
Nothing could have prepared me for the day I had about a year ago. I walked into the office to find inexplicably that there were no jobs on our list, nothing nada zip! It can't be right, so I start checking the un-resourced jobs for Burglaries or stolen cars coming in..... nothing. I go to the control and ask if there is anything I can do...... nope no jobs needed our attention. 'Fantastic!' thought I, I'll catch up on some paperwork. The paperwork took the most part of a hour to finish, I checked the rest of my desk, the post and even the washing up...nothing, so by 9am I had nothing to do, literally nothing to do. I mean how can I be pro-active, I'm not a police officer, I can't respond to immediate jobs or deal with the odd shoplifter at Sainsburys.
Eventually I went out in my little van got some tea, milk and biccies for the office and ended up joining in area searches for robbers and car thieves. A bit later on some paperwork came through courtesy of the internal post which I ambled through until the end of my shift. The lates cover were absolutely astounded at the day I had and if memory serves me right Lates only generated one or two jobs. How very rare indeed!
Friday, 18 May 2007
I certainly have, I've been elbow deep in the chest cavity of a shooting victim in post mortems, I've searched the clothing of severely decomposed bodies, I've supported completely burnt bodies while they are x-rayed and I have even handled a decapitated cat! The truth of the matter is you never get used to it, it is always unpleasant, sure your professionalism takes over in these situations and there is a sense of familiarity when dealing with it, but it still never becomes routine.
My kudos goes out to Mortuary Assistants, Pathologists, Funeral Directors who must deal with it everyday like you or I would deal with a file. The latter having the extra burden of dealing with the grief also.
There are some that just can not deal at all, Police Doctors who have gagged, Detective Inspectors who always have a convenient phone call or meeting and new recruits who have turned white, I if I honest I don't blame them, if you don't have to, then don't.
All in all it's part of the job, but we, like other professionals who deal with death, are only human and one day it may all catch up with us, either that or we may develop unhealthy attachments to 'em.
Wednesday, 16 May 2007
Although, it's not all bad, I know of a Footwear Specialist who works for one of the countries major Forensic Labs who spends so much time in shoe shops that his wife has to drag him out! If thats not the beginning of a strange fetish, I don't known what is. I wonder what other professionals do on their days off, do Anesthesiologists experiment with drugs?, do Dentists go potholing?, forklift drivers rearrange their bookshelves or do Gynecologists............... nope too far.
Monday, 14 May 2007
From now on I am gonna pay The Who to follow me around all day at work.
Sunday, 13 May 2007
Ok that may be a bit harsh on our lovely CPS, but let me tell you a story just to back it up a little. A shop on a High St was broken into, method of entry was smashed window to rear of shop, money taken from till, escape, job done. Yours truly turns up, (dashingly handsome, expensive suit and sunglasses) says something enigmatic, removes sunglasses and gets to work. I find some blood on the broken edges of the glass, photograph it, test it, swab it, say something profound, sunglasses back on and stare wistfully into the distance.
A full profile is found from the blood identifying our offender, turns out our offender is related to to the shop owner who can confirm that the offender has not set foot in the shop for weeks and the window was in tact when he did. So the Officer In Charge of the case presents this evidence to CPS, who turn around and say (with absolutely no scientific basis at all) No Further Action as Victim and offender are related their blood could be similar!!! It beggars belief really, a full profile has a discriminating factor of 1 in 1 Billion. Maybe they meant similar in colour.
Friday, 11 May 2007
She was obviously upset that she had just been burgled but she was putting a brave face on it and was very chatty, possibly because she'd more visitors in the last 24 hours, than the past month. During my examination I found a old biscuit tin under a dresser. I asked if it had been moved at all and when I turned around for my answer she was in tears. The tin contained all her memories of her brother who had died during the 2nd World War when he was only 21. The tears were those of relief that the tin hadn't been taken by the offenders and then tossed aside when no cash was found and for a few moments she forgot that people had been in and turned her house over. I made her a cup of tea and we sat for almost an hour talking about her brother and how he achieved more in his short life than the little reprobates responsible for her current situation.
The conclusion?, bring back National Service! Not that I entirely agree with equipping bad boys with firearms, but the discipline and hard work would most certainly do them some good.
Thursday, 10 May 2007
Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the value and importance of what the victim has to say, without it some examinations are guesswork and I suppose they do have a vested interest in what has happened. But please just trust my experience of dealing with thousands of Burglaries over the years, I'm not disinterested or trying to fob you off because I'm busy, I've just done all I can short of filling your house with harmful chemicals.
Saying that some are just grateful you turned up at all and at a time convenient to them, after all it doesn't occur that often.
Wednesday, 9 May 2007
OK I have every intention of keeping this blog up to date, there I said it !, so this time next year when this is the only post, no-one has commented and the loneliness that I dread is realised via the wonders of the internet, then I only have myself to blame.
Anyway the purpose of this blog is to act as a voice for the under-represented area of CSI/SOCO in the UK, whether I am the the Torch- Carrying Leader of this movement remains to be seen. I doubt it very much, it'll probably just be a platform for amusing whimsy and a place to air my moans and gripes. Either way it's exciting isn't it? I am a complete Blog Virgin and a Novice when it comes to these sort of 'tings, so please bear with me.
Lastly I'd like to thank PC Bloggs for being the inspiration to this blog, her relentless sarcasm and wit will be sound foundations for the future of this blog.