My First Post Mortem - #csidiaries
I began my first job within the Scientific Support Branch (now called Forensic Investigations) in 2008, and started off as a Scientific Support Assistant. I was 20 years old when I began this role, and hadn’t had a huge deal of experience or exposure to the real world of crime. The SSA role was a perfect way to ease me into the department. I was an essential part of the office, but played...
Sussex's Craziest Criminal Fools
In this blog I’ll give you an example of how a major incident can be averted thanks to a criminal who wasn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed! I dealt with a job a few years ago at a very large building, which must have around 4 floors. For professional reasons I won’t name the building, so you’ll have to visualize it yourself. Entry was gained by forcing open a set of doors around the...
The snow has cast a wintery blanket on our familiar world, and created an unavoidable path for those choosing to take it. For forensic examiners we usually look out for those ideal surfaces to leave footwear marks on, whether it be a muddy, unlooked after flower patch or a shiny clean window sill. But the snow has given us another route for evidence. Like airports, railways and highways, we need...
Blood, as most of you know, is a great source of DNA. Whenever there’s blood at a scene there’s a good chance of catching the offender, or in some cases identifying a victim. Blood has been glamourized by television, and is the centre of shows like Dexter. I’ve seen how characters in these programmes take swabs of blood and parts of it are accurate, but some aren’t. I will...
Welcome to the SOCO Office
If you’ve been following my blogs you’ll be accustom to what I get up to at various crime scenes, ranging from vehicle and burglaries to the more serious crimes (although major crime is tricky for me to cover on social media sites). But what some of you often wonder is what I get up to in the office. This post is designed to make you more familiar with what happens when I return from a...
How Laurence Llewelyn Bowen helped me catch a...
Interior Designer(@laurence_lb)Laurence Llewelyn Bowen is well known for decorating people’s homes, making the room nicer to live in and telling a story through his artwork. But what happens when that room is a crime scene? Well Laurence helped tell me a story, and this is how. I was called to attend a large house which had been broken into overnight. The burglar had accessed the house by...
Invitation into a crime scene
In this blog I’d like YOU to be the Scenes Of Crime Officer. Don’t worry, I won’t be asking you to throw on a white all-in-one suit and decorate your living room with fingerprint powder. What I’ll do is post a press release, which I’ve changed slightly, add a few pictures and get you thinking about evidence you would recover if you were a SOCO. I’ll be mentoring...
Essex Lion - Not the only misidentified cat
As you may have seen recently, a ‘lion’ was seen in a field in Essex. Reading the newspaper today, it turned out to be someone’s cat called Tom. This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered a cat who has caused disruption. A few years ago I was called to a scene where bones were found. These were found by Archaeologists employed by the building company, who were...
Brighton's 999 day
On Sunday 19th August Brighton hosted its annual 999 day, and this was my first attendance at a 999 event. Lots of preparation had gone into place beforehand, with many different departments providing support and goods for our stand. On the day, me and a colleague Lucy picked up the large Major Incident Van. I say we, she drove and I did the rather unsuccessful map reading! In my defense, it was...
Dealing with deceased bodies.
Part of my role is to respond to murders, suicides and suspicious deaths. People often wonder how I cope with such events being the youngest SOCO in Sussex, and I hope to share a short insight into my thoughts and feelings about the bodies I deal with. My very first dead body I witnessed was at a Post Mortem, and I was 21 at the time. Watching someone being opened up by a Pathologist, and stood...
More than just a smashed window - part 3
Weeks passed as we got closer to the Christmas holiday. The days became shorter, but would feel even longer in the cold. I travelled back from my last job of a December weekday and picked up the phone. I called the lady, the one who had been left so traumatised. Part of me wanted to see if I’d helped, but more importantly I wanted to know how she was. Admitting you need help from others...
More than just a smashed window - part 2
I reached for my radio and hit the side button, which opened up the channel for me to speak. “Whiskey Zero Five to Control, over.” Whiskey standing for the letter in the alphabet, though the word failed to warm the blood whilst stood outside on a chilly December afternoon. I informed the calm call handler of the situation, that I have an unplanned scene to attend, and they made note. Sometimes...
More than just a smashed window - part 1
It was the first day of a cold December. Christmas decorations were creeping out from their dusty boxes and appearing in the odd front window. People seemed jolly knowing that we were in the same month as Christmas. Unfortunately for one lady, the month hadn’t started well. Living alone in a warm and cosy ground floor flat, she was shocked to hear a loud smash that evening. ...
Arson Scene - Smoke Damage
Part of my role is to attend fire and arson scenes to try and piece together what the scene was like before the fire. A great aid at my disposal is smoke damage. A slow, smouldering fire will generate soot which will deposit on objects and windows, without cracking the window. The smoke damage can help us understand what the scene was like during, and before the fire, as objects will protect...
Amusing Speeding Excuses
People used to come up with all sorts to get out of a speeding fine. For 6 months I worked in the Speed Camera Department where I’d take calls, respond to letters and view the films. During that time a few interesting things were said to me on the phone. People will say anything to get out of a speeding fine. Here’s a few of those excuses: • I had a sneezing fit at the exact moment I...
One lesson I’ve learnt over the years is that everyone needs a safe place. Somewhere that you can go to get away from the world, be yourself, chill out or have a cry. This safe place could be anywhere, or anything. It could be under your duvet, in your partners arms, sat on the beach or sat in your living room. Your safe place is always personal to you. When bad things happen, this is...
The hardest task of my SOCO career
This is one question I’m frequently asked, and I often give an untruthful response. I usually say it’s a murder scene and leave it at that. I never go into too much detail as I don’t want to appear weak or too sensitive as most of my colleagues are a lot older than me. But I’ll be truthful and tell you all my real response. The hardest task of mine was to photograph a baby...