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.
Friday, 21 March 2008
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
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
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.