I spoke briefly about the training course provided by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) in my previous posts.
I have been to, and returned from the course, the dates of which will remain unknown to allow some anonymity.
The NPIA delivers a number of courses to forces across the UK and even some International forces. Before the implementation of the NPIA's training input for CSI's, each force would deliver their own input. This was beneficial to understanding local policies and procedures however there would be regional differences in the service provided. This was recognised by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabularies (HMIC) and a recommendation was that CSIs should attend a National training course before becoming competent in the role.
Older CSI's or SOCOs (some forces still use this name) would attend a nine week residential course and become full CSIs when they left, meaning they could attend all volume crime (burglaries and theft etc) as well as all major crime (murder, rape, serious assaults and so on).
The new training input is divided into two courses, a five and four week residential course. Once CSI's have attended the five week course they are competent to perform the role of a Volume Crime Scene Investigator. There is then a recommended period of six months where these skills can be implemented in a CSI's own force area before they return to complete the four week course. Once this has been completed, the CSI is then competent to attend major scenes alone. This new approach is known as a modular course, consisting of two modules.
Harperley Hall is the NPIA's Forensic Centre and is based in County Durham just outside of a aptly named town of Crook. The centre is equipped with ten classrooms, a state of the art laboratory, conference rooms for one hundred and twenty people, accommodation for eighty people and a practical training block.
The practical training block (PTB) is a complete mock set of a real street. The street is home to a bar, a travel agents, a Dominos Pizza shop, a newspaper office and twelve identical bedrooms. Outside the shops is a road, complete with pavements, yellow lines, street signs and cars. The PTB is where CSIs are able to put into practise what they have been taught through classroom input from the instructors.
The course is well planned and prepared. Most of the instructors have performed the role of CSI for a number of years in forces across the country and now deliver the training to new CSIs.
As I have previously blogged, before attending the course, each student has to complete a pre-course workbook. This workbook encourages attachments to various departments within each force. This allows the CSIs to understand how their force performs certain tasks and the policies and procedures employed in their particular force. The workbook also aims to allow a basic understanding of photography and forensic recovery. This allows each student to be at the same level of understanding before the course starts so their knowledge can be developed at the same rate.
We covered fingerprinting techniques, footwear impression recovery, photography, DNA recovery, approaching scenes, preserving evidence and scenes, documenting findings and closing scenes. We also received input on how to obtain the most information surrounding a scene as possible by investigative interviewing of witnesses.
As CSIs we will undoubtedly have to attend court to give evidence during our career. During the course we attend two mock court sessions where the evidence we recovered at a scene was questioned by a defence and prosecution barrister. This was particularly interesting and made everyone nervous!
The input covered all of the skills required to successfully examine a scene and recover evidence. I'd love to go into detail about this but wouldn't want to give too much away and make it easier for people to minimise the evidence they leave at scenes!
If you have any specific questions surrounding the course, please ask and I will respond.