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, 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)