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.

Thursday, 31 May 2007

Reinforced Support

It seems that Bloggs and Gadget, have both been airing their views in relation to their 'Support Staff', causing a bit of a furore with the replies. Now as a 'Civvie' myself I thought that perhaps I should try attain some form of balance in the differing views. I confess myself that I was in an admin management role in my previous incarnation and to be honest I had no real idea of what 'Policework' was outside of Taggart and The Bill. The problem lies with each side having a very different set of goals to their daily jobs, of which a lot of the objectives for a Civvie are at odds (and sometimes counter-productive) with those of a Police Officer and vice-versa. A Civvie has effectively a 9-5 job, thats their choice,thats the job they agreed to do. There is usually little scope for overtime so if they want to pack up and go off on time then that is entirely up to them. A Police Officer is expected to be more flexible, thats their choice thats the job they agreed to do, so when the wheel falls off they are expected to be more flexible.

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

Stupid things I've done #1

Prior to me doing this job I worked for a few years in the admin type departments (they're never as busy as they say they are believe me!)at another Police Station. One day I walked into the Front Office and to my utter dismay (as a lover of chocolate) I saw a tin of Roses Chocolates on the heater. I picked it up with my big sweaty paws and said 'Which idiot put these on here? they'll melt for christ's sake!' to which the experienced old boy SOCO goes 'you pratt I was drying those! they had been left outside at a Burglary and now all your sweaty marks will be on it!'

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

The Power of TV compells you!

I may from time to time have the odd snipe at TV programmes such as CSI and their ilk, but truth be told they do raise the profile of us humble forensic-litter-collectors, almost to ridiculous proportions, I met a young ne'er do well chap in the lift of a block of flats in a nasty little estate once who said something along the lines of 'Ahh man you're from forensics ain't ya. I tell you wot it aint worth doing anything wrong with you lot around nowadays cos I keep getting caught!'

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


Whenever a Business Premises is attacked there is always a risk of unwanted attention from the company's owner, MD or General manager. They will try to follow you around and order you about like one of their own minions and effectively tell you how to do your job.

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

The Unexpected Nothing.....

When I arrive at work most days, there is always a sense of walking into the unknown. Is there a long list of Burglaries to attend?, is there a double murder scene that has been guarded since the early hours awaiting our arrival?, is there a rape or kidnap victim pointing us towards the scene?, or are we gonna get the usual mixture of cars, burglaries and injury photos to guide us steadily until home time.

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

Death to Ambition

A lot of people say to me 'I'd love to do your job, how do you get into something like that?' When explained to most people that you do have come into some very close contact with dead bodies, they seem to go off the idea and say how you must have a very strong stomach and 'oooh you must see some sights!'

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

Kick the habit........

I can't switch off! Everywhere I go I see footwear impressions, in mud on laminate floors, and my mind suddenly goes 'oooooh thats a good 'un' . Sometimes when my Girlfriend and I are out and about I am compelled to point them out and state what type of footwear left it. Dancefloors, shop floors, fields, pavements, doors, pieces of litter on the ground they're bloody everywhere and they never fail to catch my eye. It's the same with fingerprints, I can be in the pub drinking and my eyes will be drawn to any marks on the side of a pint glass and any lull in the conversation brings me straight back to them. I'm not obsessed, it's mostly an unconscious act, I just think my brain is conditioned to react to these images as they are vital to every job I attend.

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

CSI Pie-ami

I was sitting in the office this evening on a late shift getting on with some paperwork, as usual I had my ipod on shuffle, and Won't Get Fooled Again by The Who came on. For those who don't know this is the theme tune to CSI Miami, which reminded me of this CSI parody.

From now on I am gonna pay The Who to follow me around all day at work.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Whoooooo are you oh oh oh, we know but you've been NFA'd

Ok, no spanking new CSI blog would be complete without the inevitable comparisons of Real Life versus the TV shows. I do watch these shows now and then and one thing that always ways tends to happen in the last 5 mins of every show is the 'Reluctant Confession'. If we get past the CSI interviewing the suspects (that particular moan is for another day) what amuses me is that when faced with the most tenuous of evidence in interview the suspect feels compelled to spill all the beans there and then, basically negating any kind of not guilty plea. In real life however they would probably be NFA'd before this interview occurred most like after Pre Charge Advice from the CPS!

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

Brother in Arms

Not too long ago I attended a Burglary at an Old dears house, a lovely woman who lived alone and didn't have many friends in the area.

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

It was Octopussy wot dun it........

As much as we need the Public to report crimes and actually tell us what happened in detail (after a little coaxing past 'I was robbed') I do find utter frustration with the most enthusiastic of victims following me around their house telling me how many things 'they' might of touched, like the offender is some octopus/scroat hybrid with rows of fingerprints along each tentacle. This usually occurs after I'm satisfied that I have completed a thorough examination of the scene and believe I have examined all the area's where a. the surfaces are suitable for examination and b. in areas where it is realistically viable that interaction has occurred with the offender.

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

Best Intentions Speech.

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.