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

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.


Tabitha said...

Do you have a handy little leaflet you can give out to victims in this sort of situation summarising those points? Or maybe as part of your follow-up letter?

Anonymous said...

We the cops are also sometimes guilty of the same sort of negativity. There was one particular CSI that I recall and his reports of a nothing recovered were met with dark mutterings of "Hmmm ink on paper, bad surface for prints..." and similar.

Anonymous said...

Joy! great post and it sums our job up an absolute treat.
I was examining an 80 year old metal safe recently.. "why can't you get marks off the handle ?" why can't you get marks off a dirty rough metal surface ?"

and yes it was me not doing my job properly.. not the idiot householder who left his house insecure and the safe keys on the table..

& don't get me started on steering wheels and bloody dashboards !

arggghhhh !!!

Anonymous said...

I good trick we use in Ruralshire, once the customer starts getting a bit shirty. Use a brush load of fluorescent pink powder.
They`ll be driving it with a day-glo pink dashboard for the rest of their days.
Nothing but nothing gets that stuff out of the lovely grain of the dashboard.
Makes me chuckle every time.

Anonymous said...

Only yourselves to blame. People watch too much American TV programs like CSI and then have raised expectations. What was wrong with SOCO?

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Anonymous said...

I assume you gave up your job because you ran out of whine