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.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Fly Tipping

Ooops it been a while, are you still there? Ok a mixture work/home commitments, the release of Grand Theft Auto IV and a lack of enthusiasm in general for my job for one reason or another have led to a bit of a lull in proceedings. Problem is I'm not getting regular flashes of inspiration during work that can transfer easily to amusing musings on this 'ere blog. I will try my best in future but I have less time nowadays to sit down and write.

Anyway, a thing occurred to me the other day whilst crouching over a three week old decomposed body of a local junkie in his flat, it's amazing how flies in their hundreds will find their way into any room with rotting meat inside and deposit their eggs. Even a huge industrial fridge that had been shut off by workmen over a long weekend, who had cut electricity cables to a small unit leaving it without an a larm and power. Amazingly these little blighters (the flies) found their way into the sealed fridge and were hanging around the meat like...well like flies on shit.

What bothers me about this is, a fly comes into your kitchen on a hot summer's day through an open door, and can the bastard find his way out? No, there he is repeatedly banging his head against the glass panel of the open door! Maybe my kitchen is just like the Island on 'Lost', they are drawn there by some magnetic force and there is an invisible barrier preventing them from leaving.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Intermittent Intermissions

Apologies for the lack of postings recently, normal service should resume in a few weeks or so. Things have been hectic recently with courses, wedding, holidays on the horizon and little time for myself.

Again if there are any CSI/SOCOs out there who would like to contribute a story, rant or flight of whimsy then please email me and I'll post them up.

So give me a few weeks and I'll get around to updating this blog.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Idiot Box

Nightjack - an excellent Detective blogger - touched on an issue close to my heart recently:-

'Lets not forget the witnesses who are more keen on watching Corrie that speaking to you. Excuse me, hello, remember me, the detective in the corner. Yes, I’m trying to talk to you over then din from your offensively large and antisocially loud plasma screen TV. Why would you want to turn it off, or down even so that the neighbours can’t hear every word? I’ll come back when there’s nothing on. Oh there’s always something.'

I can't think of anything more infuriating than competing peoples attention with that of the latest installment of Jeremy Kyle, Loose Women or whatever crap daytime garbage ITV is showing. It really is the height of rudeness in my opinion. I'm there try and help find the person who broke into your house and stole all your personal possessions, they would have taken the telly as well had it not been the size of snooker table.

It's basic manners, if someone visits my house and the telly is on, it goes straight off (unless they have come around to watch the football) or we go in another room, I even turn the radio off in the office if I get a visitor. At one job a guy was too busy playing a mate at football on his games console to tell me what happened! I kept having to interrupt them to ask pertinent questions each one followed by huffs and tuts as Rooney is freeze framed yet again on another shot on goal.

Saying that though, I was working during the England Rugby World Cup Final win. We had gone to see a man about his damaged car and we were dragged into his lounge to watch the final glorious minutes of the match with celebratory cups of teas and a tray of biscuits.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Nobody's Fault But Mine.

I was examining a Builder's van the other day. I hate Builder's vans, they are naturally dirty dusty things and full of crap, not the greatest environment for fingerprints to thrive in and almost always wind up as a 'negative result'. In addition to this the owner refused to have it recovered to the safety and shelter of one of our secured garages, it was raining and he expected yours truly to examine it on the roadside.

Now usually I would refuse under grounds of insufficient preservation of the vehicle and the Health and Safety aspect of examining a vehicle on the roadside, but my heart isn't made of stone, I understand that this van is integral to the victim's business and any unnecessary delay in using it could cost him money.

I am also aware that this is a lost cause given the factors involved:- The van was stolen with keys in the ignition, it's filthy, it had since been driven to it's current location and searched though by the victim and it had initially been taken a whole half a mile down the road before the offenders gave up for whatever reason. So I give it as thorough an examination as I can considering the circumstances and alas there is nothing for us.

Of course this now becomes my fault, I have not, according to the victim, done my job properly. Apparently there are lots of areas I have not examined, the steering wheel the outside surface of the window (which are soaking wet!), the handbrake and all manner of areas unsuitable for me to examine. I try my best to explain why there is no point looking at those areas and how there is no physical way I can retrieve fingerprints, but this is just met with a roll of the eyes, as if I am just making excuses not to do my job properly.

So then it's the Police's fault for not having an officer in the street corner at the exact time it was stolen! At no point does he take responsibility for leaving his van unattended, insecure with the keys in the ignition, claiming he should be able to (in an ideal world!) or that he has refused the chance to have the job done properly and give us an outside chance of a result. I was gobsmacked, I explain to him in no uncertain terms that had he secured his vehicle properly we wouldn't be having this discussion, but he has already formed his own opinion.

When will people learn that they are just as responsible for the security and safety of their own property as those that are paid to protect it and prevent it's loss. We do not live in a perfect world and sods law dictates that the only time we leave our valuables vulnerable there will be an opportunist little sod who will be there to relieve you of such possessions.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Wombling Free

Those American CSI programmes are great at moving the passage of time via the televisual wonders of the Musical Monatage - lots of stern looking pretty people heating and agitating test tubes, powdering items on large lightboxes and spraying things blue all to a sound track of old Who tracks mixed in with some modern classics. Basically glossing over all the boring stuff so they can get on with their dramatic one-liners "We'll let the science decide!" and their flicking of hair and creating sexual tension between colleagues etc etc.

So the other day I was sat in the office, taking an age to get my paperwork done and I thought to myself I could do with a montage here! So on goes the Ipod with The Who belting out 'Won't Get Fooled Again' and the work gets done a little bit quicker. However the montages in CSI show them processing evidence, looking under microscopes, ludicrously enhancing poor quality photos and general Laboratory work. Thing is we don't actually do any of that stuff in the real world, it gets passed on to other departments to deal with. We have an appreciation of each discipline but we can't multi-task like those off of the telly!

We just attend the scenes, collect the evidence bag it, tag it then pass it on. So all we really are, are just Wombles, making good use of the things that we find, the things that the everyday criminal leaves behind.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Sneer Trophies.

The other weekend the photocopier nearest our office had broken down (again!), so I found myself in the unfamiliar area of the 'Command Suite' using the 'never-fails-due-to being-underworked' all singing all dancing colour (gasp!) photocopier. It was eerily quiet down there during a weekend, not a soul walks by and I sense no life beyond the closed doors adorned with name-plaques and important titles.

Then I notice something I have never seen before, the trophy cabinet shining like a beacon of success in the corner of the corridor, shiny trinkets fight for space on it's laden glass shelves and I think 'Wow what a successful station we are, what have we won?, Force Football Titles?, Cricket Success?, National Police sport trophies?, Hockey?, Netball?, what?' I start to feel a sense of pride well up inside of me and I edge closer to the cabinet to get a glimpse of the etched wording on the surface of such reflective souvenirs that represent local greatness, my mind wonders to the lavish ceremonies where such relics are handed out and I wonder why I have never been invited (on Overtime of course) to photograph such events.

Then I find my answer, these trophies do not represent great sporting achievements at all, there are no gold medals from the Police Olympics, there isn't even one for the egg and spoon race. Instead the trophies and plaques read 'Best Call Handling Operations Centre August 07', 'Best Detection Rates June 2006', ' Best performing station Sept-Dec '07'. There was even a certificate for our Office! - 'Best Performing Police Staff Dept 2007' (tied with Personnel and Admin) it goes on to list the criteria this is based on - Receiving Phone calls, answering and clearing voicemails, attendance!! I could just imagine my acceptance speech ' I would like to thank the phones for making annoying sounds when some one is ringing, without which all of this could not be possible, I would like to thank my colleagues for doing the same and for turning up everyday.........'

When did we start rewarding mediocrity? What is point of receiving such adulation for turning up and doing what you are paid to do. These awards took no effort at all to gain other than doing the job you are asked and indeed paid to do! Why don't we actually concentrate on rewarding hard work that goes beyond our contracts of employment? What is there to inspire you to do better or work harder when coasting along brings such rewards. Now it's nice to have your work noticed and be thanked for it, but handing out trophies for menial day to day tasks doesn't help anyone and highlights the absence of good line supervision and management.

Right I'm off to polish my 'Makes a nice cup of tea' plaque.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

A Small Shower

It's 10 minutes from clocking off time on the Friday night late shift, I'm checking all the open logs to see if anything drastic is coming in that might require my services before I slip out the door. One of the worst things about being on call is getting the key into the door of your house only for the phone to ring beckoning you back to work. The list doesn't reveal any immediate cause for concern, there is a big job going off in one the High St Pubs known for Drug Dealing, but they won't need me there surely? otherwise they would have let me know in the planning stages (ahem!).

To be fair, initially there would have been no requirement for me, but in between 30 odd officers bursting through the doors and climbing walls of the local, somebody threw a firearm into the beautifully landscaped bush that is the focal point of the beer garden. So halfway home the phone rings (after pulling over safely and turning the engine off) I answer the call and soon I'm driving in the opposite direction back to work.

At the scene, most of the remaining clientèle are being searched for contraband and are leaving for another Pub, the bush in the Beer Garden is dramatically cordoned off with Police Tape. I am informed by the Sergeant heading the raid that Firearms Officers are tied up with other incidents across the force and may be a while. I can't do anything with the Gun until it is made safe by Firearms, so I start racking up some photos in the dark, this usually takes a while in the low lighting conditions but I had the comfort of not being rushed so I ambled along at my own pace. Once that's finished, still no sign of Firearms and I am informed again that it going to be a few hours. I look at the sky to see if the weather is going to be a problem, it's a beautiful summer's night, not a cloud in the sky and I'm walking around with a t-shirt on and I've still got a bit of a sweat on, not a chance of rain ruining my scene, but ever the professional I diligently place a large plastic bag over the gun, you know, just to be safe.

So I have done as much as I can, the pub is now closed and just a few officers remain so I take the opportunity to have a kip on one of the chairs in the 'snug', then a free game of pool courtesy of the worried landlord. A dog handler and his drugs dog arrives to do a walk through of the pub and garden to find any discarded un-dealt drugs. From my comfy seat I wave a half-hearted 'If you find anything give us a shout and I'll do some photos for you', I remain in my comfy seat in the snug awaiting Firearms so I can finish the job. Nothing more is found by dog and handler, unfortunately no one had informed him about the firearm in the bush, until after he let his dog relieve himself in the garden! I jump up from my comfy seat, the Dog Handler looks sheepish, it's not his fault really, someone should be preserving the scene properly instead of sleeping on the job!(although there was an officer guarding the beer garden). Luckily for me though my professional scene securing skills meant all we needed was a fresh plastic bag instead of a new gun. There was no rain only a small shower.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Attach of Clones.

Every now and then our department gets it's very own, fresh out of the box, wet behind the ears Probationer Constable attached to our office for a day or two to learn the ways of CSI. Without an air of cynicism about them and overwhelming puppy-like enthusiasm they lap up our every word as gospel and vow never to contaminate a scene for as long as they wear the blue cloth. It's useful to 'get' to them at this stage in their career before they get influenced by the more experienced cynical weather-worn Officers.

Whenever I'm preaching to the probationers, I drill into them, please do not listen to anyone else but my colleagues and I in forensic matters, because, and lets not beat around the bush here, a lot of Officers on the street haven't a clue! If you have ever seen those fly-on-the-wall programmes that follow Officers around the streets, you'll notice that barely any of them put a pair of gloves on before, picking up the bloodied knife, searching the car or bagging up stolen property in fact those that do could be counted on a single gloveless hand. If you are ever near my house when these shows are on (not that I make a habit of watching them) you will hear a high pitched scream along the lines of 'Put some bloody gloves on!!'

This may sound like a trivial moan, but if you knew how much work actually goes into enhancing, lifting, scanning/photographing, examining and identifying those marks, then perhaps Officers may think twice about pawing their dirty mitts all over our scenes. I appreciate that when responding to some scenes the dynamic element sometimes puts other priorities first and that's understandable, but if you do handle something then just 'fess up, it just makes the process even easier, yes we may have a little giggle at your expense but it's all for the greater good.

Now I know you are taught in Training School not to wear gloves because you may wipe marks off the surface, but this is crap advice, your own fingerprints will either do the same or overlay the existing mark making them unusable. My advice is wear gloves and handle everything carefully and where possible don't touch it at all.

Join me next week when I'll be teaching grannies to suck eggs.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Cradle Snatchers

A bit of Crime Prevention advice for you all today. I am sick to death of examining cars that have had Sat Navs stolen from within. Sat Navs at the moment are the Swag De-Jour, mainly because they are easy to steal and are in high demand at low local junkie prices.

If you have a Sat Nav, don't advertise the fact by having a you cradle suckered to the windscreen, don't think you are being clever by taking it out if the cradle and hiding it in the glovebox or under the seat. Local scroates may not be on front pages of Mensa Monthly but they are not stupid, unfortunately some members of the public clearly are.

So if you are one of the many drivers incapable of reading an A-Z or a consumer of the must have in car gadgets then do me and my many colleagues a favour when alighting from your vehicle, remove your cradle, wipe off the sucker mark and take you Sat Nav with you!

(Can you tell I spent most of today looking at car windscreens)

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Late Start.

Ooops it's been over a month since I posted last. I could say it was because I'm very busy being a dynamic go-getting CSI who puts his job before his home life and drinks straight whiskey until he passes out, just to block the horrendous crap he has to deal with daily which is sending him spiraling out of control and threatening his marriage . But the truth is more a combination of apathy and new Xbox games for christmas (yes I am a big kid and should know better).

Anyway, work wise it's been a steady year so far, but nothing to get excited about, although I still keep leaving expensive torches at peoples houses and luckily they have all been honest enough to ring me to tell me. I think the next time I lose one it coming out of my own pocket and I'll have to use the glow from my mobile phone to search for fingerprints.

So a belated Happy New Year to all and standby for more forensic whimsy in 2008!