Someone called me lazy and selfish yesterday.
They may be right, I'd like to think they are not.

"Have a good day off" They said.

I'm striking. Not for a day off, although it's nice. Not because I'm selfish, far from it. Am I lazy? Hell no.

I'm a member of Police Staff, a Public Sector worker.

Today is a day of action against proposed pension reforms. The Government want me to pay a greater contribution.

But you'll get it back when you retire, you say? No I won't. If I'm still alive when I reach pension age, I won't get back this additional contribution, in any form.

These extra payments are to help pay off the UK deficit.

I rent my flat. I can't afford to buy a house. I pay for my own gas, electric, water, Council tax, contents insurance, TV licence and so on. Nothing I have is paid for by the Government or anyone else.

I'm proud of that.

I'm engaged to Miss CSI, our wedding day planning has made us realise, we probably can't afford that either.

Do we still invite that annoying cousin?

I'm on a decent wage, but I don't live the life of Riley. I have a few hundred pounds a months as disposable income. Most of which goes on diesel for my car.

I, like most Public Sector workers put in 150% at my job. I work through my lunch, I don't take breaks and I very rarely go home on time.

Do I moan about it? Sometimes. Most of the time, I just get on with the job. Why? Because I love it and it makes a difference and that's the way I am.

I work for a living.

My working week a few weeks ago:

Monday: Rest Day - Volunteered for ten hours with a neighbouring Police Force as a Special Constable - Travelling 100 miles round trip for this force. Most of which is paid by me.
Tuesday: (0700-1500) At work at 0645. Worked through lunch. Got home at 1615. No overtime.
Wednesday: (0700-1500) At work at 0645. Worked through lunch. Got home at 1600. No overtime.
Thursday: (1000-1800) At work at 0930. Had a sandwich whilst at a job. Got home on time.
Friday: (1400-2200) At work at 1330. No lunch or dinner. Home at 2230. On call until 0700.
Saturday: (1200-2000) At work at 1130. Cup of soup before I went out. Off duty at 2030. No overtime.
Sunday: Rest Day working as we haven't got enough staff. Overtime paid. Tomorrow will be my first day off in seven.

This is a typical working week.

Sometimes, home is just where I sleep.

On top of the Pension reform. The Policing budget has been cut by millions of pounds. By next year, my department will be thinner on the ground.

We're likely to lose all overtime, weekend working allowances, shift allowance and on call payments are to be hacked.

The new shift pattern will include nights and seven out of nine weekends at work. With no additional payment.

I'm often on call between 2200 and 0700. I'll get a call and I need to be at the scene within an hour. Anytime of the night, anywhere within the force area. For being on call through the night, I get about two hours worth of pay. I'm happy with this. This will be halved.

All of this means a pay reduction for most people.

The Autumn statement yesterday suggests that even more public sector jobs are to go, which will affect me and my colleagues. If I am still here then, my pay is to be capped after the current freeze.

I don't get expenses for gardeners, second houses, drivers, cars, advisors and I don't take home millions in bonuses.

"Think of all the inconvenience you'll cause" I'm aware of that. What would the point be in striking and no one noticing? None.

I'll lose a day's pay. I should, I'm not at work.

I went to burglary the other day, the tenant let me in. The house was cold. Did she shut her windows and doors? No. She lit all four gas rings on her hob, turned them to full whack and they remained on the whole time I was there.

"I ain't paying for it mate" She says whilst laughing.

And I'm the selfish one.

I walked along the path beside the water towards fluorescent jackets, I could see their reflection in the clouds in the murky brown water as the wind blew ripples in it, Fire, Ambulance, Police, Special Rescue and others were up ahead.

One of the firefighters had a long pole, on the end of the pole was a man.

Floating. Face down.

Contrary to popular belief, bodies don't float straight away.

When someone dies in water, they normally sink. This is often as a result of the water filling their body, normally through the lungs. As decomposition continues, the bacteria in the chest and gut produce gases. These gases cause the person to float, normally by the torso. The head and limbs often follow suit.

Bodies that fall into the water face down, already dead, may float from the off. This is normally because the air in the lungs can't escape.

This man was wearing a green three quarter length jacket, a scarf, grey trousers and black shoes.

He wasn't young.

He had to come out of the water, the Fire Brigade were itching to get him out, they had been there for a while.

When people see someone in water, they're not sure who to call first. Normally, each Emergency Service will contact the other and notify them. All services are likely to go to such an incident.

I was with another CSI, and we lay a plastic sheet on the ground in line with him. The Firemen pulled him out, as gracefully as they could and lay him on the sheet, then it was up to me to search his pockets for ID.

I had gloves on but he was cold. I could feel that much.

He had a hanky in his left pocket, which along with everything else, was soaked through.

I checked him for injuries as I went, but I couldn't see any.

He had his watch on his left wrist, the hands surrounded by water. A bubble remained inside the face, it looked like he'd worn that watch every day of his life, and now his death.

As I put my hand into his left hand inside pocket of his jacket, I struck gold.

A clear Lloyds moneybag; inside was a driving licence with current address, a roll of notes, a shopping list and two Rover keys.

This doesn't look like someone has bopped him on the head or pushed him in for his valuables.  

I checked under his clothes for injuries and marks. There were none. I checked front and back of his neck, nothing.

He had very hairy ears.

It turns out the gent had left home earlier that morning to go to the City to do some shopping with a friend- he never got there, and now he never would.

He was widowed and lived alone, so no one would have missed him at home. His friend wasn't sure why he hadn't arrived but wasn't worried, supposing there was no reason to be worried.

Whilst I was there, a police unit had found the male's car parked up and secure only a mile away.

The male had no injuries and he had all of his valuables. There was nothing suspicious about his death.

This wasn't a crime. This was a tragic accident.


Suspicious Death

The words "Suspicious Death" came over the radio.

That's going to be the next job, I thought.

Pretty much everything else will be put on hold for such a job.

A death can be labelled as suspicious for many reasons and by a number of people. The most common scenario is that a Paramedic has attended a job and found a person deceased. The Paramedic will normally make an informed decision as to whether or not two and two make four.

If it doesn't add up then they will call us.

The normal response is an Officer or Supervisor, sometimes both, will attend the scene and collect the facts.

An Inspector and a PC attended this job and they agreed with the Paramedic that the death appeared suspicious.

Sometimes the Officers don't agree, but Supervision will often ask for CSI in order to confirm or deny these suspicious aspects. That's always a tough one. Diplomacy at it's best.

If a death is likely to turn into a murder investigation, then a Crime Scene Manager (CSM) will always be appointed. The CSM will coordinate department's response.

Luckily for us, CSM Lady was on duty. She's been off for a while. It's nice to have her back. I asked if I could come along to assist and she agreed.

I drove to the scene. I've got a shiny new van, full of kit. This would be it's first decent job.

The address should have given it away. Maybe I hadn't noticed, maybe I was thinking about other things. This part of town has a large number of tower blocks. They're not called 'Sunny Tower Block' but they're all called 'Something' 'House'.

I don't know if it's the Council's way of brightening up a deprived area, or whether or not the person in charge at the time, thought it funny. They don't look like a house, they don't smell like a house and it's downright misleading to call them a 'House'.

I wouldn't live there.

I reversed the van up next to the Police car, so we could access the back doors of the van from the pavement. We put a collection of equipment into a small box to carry it to the scene, grabbed our cases and headed inside.

You get used to the aroma by the time you reach the stairs.
We looked at each other in realisation that the scene was on the top floor.

Two options, two flights of stairs for each floor for sixteen floors or the lift.

CSM was in charge. Sixteen flights was an awful long way to walk with the kit.

The lift it was.

I hate the lift. There was the usual; graffiti on the wall, smell of urine, chewing gum on the buttons. Someone here though had taken it up a notch. Faeces on the ceiling. Great.

We get out on the correct floor and we are met by a bobby guarding the scene. Half an hour ago, this floor was buzzing with people. Paramedics, a handful of bobbies, neighbours and Council workers. All in a space impossible for two people to pass each other.

Now it was the PC, CSM Lady and me. I prefer it this way.

CSM had a discussion with the bobby and then a conversation on the phone with the Inspector who attended.

CSM Lady delegates the videoing of the scene to me. She volunteers to take the photos. She takes the photos first. I follow behind her, making sure I'm not in any of them.

This place is a mess. I wasn't expecting much, but this is a wreck.
The guy has very little furniture. The living room consists of a single mattress with a waterproof cover as a sheet, an avocado coloured arm chair and a television.

That's it.

There was no carpet on the floor, no door handles on the doors, no light bulbs in the lights and no food in the cupboards.

There were six empty cans of strong cider, an empty packet of Monster Munch and some chocolate wrappers on the floor amongst the other rubbish.

The floor was covered in a thick layer of dirt and grime. I'm glad I have my white suit and footwear protectors on. As always, two pairs of gloves.

This is a property provided by the Council.

This is Social Housing.

The kitchen sink had dried blood and mucus in it. It was clear this guy wasn't well. No wonder, looking at where he sleeps and lives.
He was on a cocktail of drugs for various conditions. Empty boxes lay on the floor, as did the odd crushed tablet.

The male lay on his back, on the mattress. He was in his late forties. He looked in his late sixties.

The TV was still on, but just giving out static. I wonder what he was watching before he died?

Once all the photos had been taken, it was my turn to come in with the video.
The video won't show anything that the photos didn't show. The video is often used at any subsequent briefing.

I started at the front door. I pushed record. I took a breath and began.

"I am CSI Guy 999 of Anytown CSI and the time is 1100 on the 1st January 2001"
It felt weird at first, talking to the camera. I soon got into the swing of it. As I progressed through the property, I gave a commentary.

People use the camera in different ways. I try to stand still whilst it's recording and pan from left to right. I will talk about what can be seen and then hit pause. I will then move to another part of the room and do the same again. I will do this from each corner of the room, ensuring that everything is captured on film. Some people try to walk with the camera or use the zoom, I've seen one of these videos and it feels like a roller coaster ride. The screen is all over the place and it's difficult to keep track of what is where.

It felt like I had been in the property with the camera for fifteen minutes. The elapsed time was 05:04. Not long at all.

There wasn't much to see.

It was hot inside. Not because the heating was on, I doubt this flat ever had the heating on. Being in a suit, with a mask and gloves on whilst working can work up a sweat.

The only clean place to put the camera was an Argos catalogue. It couldn't have been here long. I put the camera down on top of it and I stepped out onto the balcony. I'm on the sixteenth floor, no one's going to see me in my suit up here. I could see for miles and miles. It was a brilliant view. I'd love to get a photo from this balcony at night.

I'm not sure I'd want to walk in this area at night, let alone with my camera. It's sad really, there are some really nice people that live near here, I'm sure. The problem is, there are some really nasty people too. Once an area gets a reputation, it's difficult to shake it.
I'm not sure if this was the highest building I'd been in or not, the cars look like toys on the road below.

Once I finished with the video, I went back into the hallway. CSM Lady was on the phone to the Inspector. When she finished we went back inside.

The suspicious element of this job came about when and how the male was found. There was nothing else to suggest his death was untoward. We always check the person for any injuries. That was next.

This is where my double gloves come in handy.

CSM Lady took some close up photos of the male. She took one of his face, square on, this may be useful if his identity is unknown. The male had some tattoos and she photographed these too. I held his arms and hands in place for photos.

We need to check his back.

I took hold of his right arm and right leg and rolled him away from me. He was stiff. Rigor Mortis had set in. When I rolled him over, his back was different colours. Parts of his back were deep purple and some were pale, almost white.

When someone dies, the blood in their body stops circulating and as a result of gravity, will sink to the lowest accessible parts. This is known as 'Hypostasis' or 'Lividity' as well as other similar names. This can be useful determining whether or not someone has been moved after death. After a period of time, and this varies, the blood will remain fixed in the lower parts of the body. If a person is then moved, it will be clear to an investigator that the body isn't in the position it was when it died. This difference can also be seen in a person's organs.
The white parts of the male were where his body had been against the mattress. It was visible on his shoulders and his buttocks. The pressure on the skin prevented the blood settling there. These white areas can be seen on most people when they've died. Elasticated socks, tight belts, bra straps, watches and any ligature will have the same effect.

I could also see the dirt and grime from the mattress that had stuck to his back, along with a few copper coins.
He had no injuries that would give CSM Lady or myself cause for concern.

CSM Lady decided that the male would have a Post Mortem to determine the cause of death. Until that was completed, the property would remain secure.

We brought in two body bags. We lay the first one out next to the male. We unzipped it and lifted him into it. We lay the second body bag out next to the first and lifted that one into the second. Once they were both zipped up, the outer bag needs a tamper evident seal. This allows the Dr at the PM to be confident that the bag hasn't been opened in transport or storage. CSM Lady photographed this.

I didn't go to the Post Mortem, it took place the following day whilst I was off. It turned out the male died as a result of the numerous conditions he suffered from and there was no indication of foul play.

The Council will be happy that the can let that flat out again. I wonder what the next tenants would do with the place.



Apologies for the delay in getting a new post up. I've been busy recently. Work takes up a lot of my time.

I'll discuss my thoughts of a job I did over a year ago now.

I was on lates, which is a 1400-2200 hour shift.

For once, I was off on time. To tell the truth, I left ten minutes early. Who's to know?

It had been a busy few weeks, it may have been the time of year, it may just have been luck. Or the lack of it.

I hadn't eaten whilst at work so I put some left over chicken pie, potatoes and peas in the microwave. Two minutes and thirty seconds later and a splash of brown sauce and all was good.

I hadn't quite finished the plate when the phone rang.

I'm on call. And that's a call out. It has to be.

There's been a murder. Never quite the same as Taggart.

I live close enough to the station to be able to finish my food before I get ready to go again. I got in the office within twenty minutes, it felt like I'd only been here a couple of hours ago.

I had been.

I read the incident on the computer system, it had been running for just short of three hours and was already on page thirty two, most incidents are two pages long, maximum.

The incident normally includes details from the initial caller, descriptions, address, telephone number and what has happened. From there, details of responding officers are attached, decisions that have been made, observations, names of witnesses, suspects and much more will be placed on an incident. It soon adds up.

There was already a Crime Scene Manager (CSM) at the scene. A CSM will always take the lead on a murder. The CSM makes decisions on how to process the scene and the CSI will normally carry out the work. The CSM will work closely with the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) to progress the investigation.

The CSM had requested a CSI to assist him at the scene. I like the CSM at this job. He's knocking on a bit but a great guy. He's experienced, calm, professional and has the best sense of humour in the office. Except for me.

I called the CSM on the radio, using a point to point (a personal conversation on the radio system), and checked to see if he needed anything in particular from the store room before I headed his way. I grabbed a few bits and pieces and put a flask of coffee together, anticipating a long night.

It didn't take long to get to the location, there was hardly any traffic on the roads. I knew the road where the incident had occurred, though the Police vans and scene tape on approach gave it away.

It was a particularly cold night so I had my force issue woolly hat on, it looks ridiculous, but keeps me warm and Miss CSI says I look cute, besdies which it's not a fashion show, especially at this time of the night.

As I approached the cordon, an Officer hastily jumped out of the passenger side of the van, he was probably sitting in front of the heater, he put his hat on and started to point towards a side road.

I'm not going down there. I'm coming in the cordon. He just doesn't know it yet.

As I got closer, it wasn't my van, it wasn't my uniform, nor was it my radio giving off an incredible amount of light, it was my hat that made him realise who I was. "You must be SOCO, with a stupid hat like that. Your colleague is over there, he has one of those!"

He lifted the tape as I drove under it. The tape is strecthy and usually goes over the top of the van easily. I parked up and the CSM came out to greet me.

He gave me a run down of what happened. "It's not good" He said.

I gathered as much, seeing as someone had been murdered.

I took my hat and jacket off and put on a white suit and footwear protectors. I slipped on two pairs of gloves.

The CSM took me towards the door of the property, the deceased's place of work, and I could smell blood. There was a tent over space in the back of the building, as I entered the tent, there was a lot of blood on the floor. This is probably the most blood I've seen in one area before.

As we entered the door into the property, there was a trail of blood.

This wasn't blood drops, nor was it cast off from a weapon, this was blood transfer. Something, or more likely, someone, wet with blood, has moved across this floor.

The transfer went in the door, down the steps, around the corner and across the floor.

At the end of this trail, I knew there was going to be a person. This trail was the last movements of the man who had been murdered. Dragging himself along the floor trying to get help. Not many people will see this, thankfully.

The floor was covered in footwear impressions trod into blood. It was clear people were here at the time of the incident or after it. I could see at least four different impressions, there would be many more that can't be seen which would be developed later. It's likely that some of the impressions would belong to paramedics and Officers.

None of them will belong to me, I can make that promise.

The male had been attacked whilst at work by strangers, this doesn't happen very often. The offenders are normally known to the victim or there is normally a connection of sorts.

Not here, apparently.

I spent a few minutes just looking, taking it all in. The male way laying on his right side. There was a small pool of blood on the floor beneath him. His mouth was wide open. His left leg was on top of his right leg. His Adidas jacket had six or seven holes in it. These holes were were the knife had ripped it open before it was plunged into his body.

This had been a frenzy. A book shelf lay on the ground ahead of the male, books were strewn all over the floor.

Both the CSM and I had to prepare this male for removal to a mortuary, this almost always means taking clothes and jewellery off. Each piece of clothing has to be packaged seperately, I had to do this. The problem with these clothes were that they were still wet. Normally, clothing goes into brown paper bags, but blood would have soaked straight through. I wrote the exhibit details on the outside of the paper bag and then I placed the wet clothing in an open plastic bag, then placed it inside the paper bag.

I never thought I'd have a job taking other people's clothes off, especially in these sort of circumstances.

Any such clothing removed would need to be dried before being sealed completely, we have cabinets for this back at the station.

As I was doing this, the CSM was videoing the scene and taking photos of other important points.

I put the bags of clothes into the back of my van, it was nice to step outside into the cold air. I remembered I had a flask of coffee and felt fully deserving of a break, as did the CSM. I went back inside with my flask in my hand, the CSM's eyes lit up.

We took ten minutes aside to have a coffee and got back to it.

Before we put the male in a body bag, we had to cover his hands, feet and head. I've discussed this before, but it never stops feeling completely unnatural to put a plastic bag over someone's head, even when they are deceased.

I pulled the black drawstrings on the bags, tightening the seal on each.

Putting the male in a body bag was a two man job. CSM had packed the video camera away and changed gloves. I'm not sure why he changed gloves, he hadn't touched anything except the camera yet.

We had to find a clean space to lay the bag out. We've got new bags. They've got stronger handles. I wonder who makes these items. Bags for heads and bags for bodies. I thought I had a strange job.

There's no graceful way to put someone in a bag. I held him by his arms, CSM held him by the legs. Once inside the first bag, the male goes into a second bag. Inner and outer bags.

As I left people were starting to head to work. The road closure was causing chaos. It didn't bother me, I was driving the opposite way.

This job made the National News. Thankfully, I was tucked up in bed before the TV crews got there.

Play it safe

Every now and then a keen gardener, a developer or a metal detector enthusiast will discover bones during their adventures.

My force, like most forces, will have a protocol for dealing with such incidents as and when they arise.

The idea is to treat any find as a potential scene until it can be determined that it isn't.

Play it safe. Works well.

I'd been in the office towards the end of my shift for an hour or so already. I was catching up on some paperwork, a regular challenge in this line of work, when the phone rang.

It was the control room for the division in which my station is based. This isn't normally the division I cover, just where my station is. I didn't know the controller so the conversation was brief.

"I've got a Sergeant over at Anytown Station who has a bone"

Now, I'm not sure if this was a deliberate play on words or not. In the split second it took me to reply, all sorts of witty comments went through my mind, shall I?

Better not. Play it safe.

"Righto. What's his number, I'll give him a call" I said.

The Sergeant was also a stranger to me, this happens a lot due to the size of my force. Even on the division where I spend most of my time, it's difficult to meet the same Officer more than once. When you do, it's like you've met an old friend!

I've learnt to make friends with the DS's and DI's. These are the people that want to know what I think when I am at a scene. It makes it easier if you are on good terms. Some CSIs I know have feuds with some of the DI's (for good reason) but it doesn't half make it awkward when they get together at a scene.

We can't like everyone, nor expect everyone to like us, we are all human after all.

I rang the Sergeant at Anytown Station and asked him about the job. He told me that this bone had been discovered at an allotment whilst they were turning over the soil.

I've heard that there are waiting lists for allotments that are longer than the waiting list to be in the audience of Top Gear.

Seriously? A shed and some soil?

 "It looks like a child's hip bone" the Sergeant said.

He doesn't want to be saying things like this for two reasons. One, it scares me, and two, it scares the DI in CID.

The Sergeant thought it'd be a good idea to put the bone in a Tesco carrier bag and take it back to Anytown Station in his car. Not a great problem if he knew it wasn't human, but he's told me already he thinks it's a child's hip bone!

I ask a few questions about the allotment and who is guarding the scene. They are rhetorical questions. I know no one is guarding the scene.

They should be.

It turns out that the allotments have been locked up and the owner is aware that we may, at any point, come back and excavate his radishes.

I ask the Sergeant to carefully bring the bone to me at CSI HQ.

"Straight away, CSI Guy." I could hear a quiver in his voice. I think he's just realised that he may actually have the remains of a person on the back seat of his panda in a carrier bag.

Really, the only person who can say whether a bone is human or not is a Forensic Archaeologist. I can have a go, but it'd need confirming.

Some forces have Forensic Archaeologists, some don't. Some are available 24/7, some aren't. It turns out that I had the number for one who was on call 24/7. I gave her a call and asked her if I could send some photos to her to have a look at.

"Go for it CSI Guy, I'll call you straight back."

This sort of service is invaluable. This Archaeologist could get a call from any one of the UK Police forces at any time day or night, to look at a bone. She is always willing to help.

I bet her husband loves her getting up at 0400 to have a look at photos of bones sent by Police Officers. No play on words, honest.

I meet the Sergeant in the car park and lead him to the examination room, he's holding the carrier bag in his hands, palms face up and at arms length.

I've mentioned before how particular I am with my photos. I like them to be right. In the examination room we have use of a copy stand, it's like a table top tripod, but isn't.

The Sergeant puts the carrier bag on the desk next to the copy stand and stands back. I can sense his relief, he's passed it to me now, not his problem.

I prepare my camera, format my memory card and fix the camera to the copy stand.

I put brown paper over the copy stand base, I don't want bones on the copy stand. I put two pairs of gloves on.

I take the bone out of the carrier bag with my right hand, there's a receipt in the bag, Walkers salt and vinegar crisps and a prawn and mayonaise sandwich.

"Not mine!" the Sergeant says.

I smile at him and raise my eyebrows.

I turn the bone around in one hand, looking at each side of it.

It looks like a hip bone to me, it looks odd though, which I hope means that it isn't human.

"I think it's human" I said to the Sergeant.

He went pale and quiet. He used an expletive. I didn't let on then I was having him on.

"Lets photograph it and get it off to the Forensic Archaeologist" I said.

He nodded in agreement. "Play it safe" he said.

It was mean I know, I shouldn't have strung him along like that.

I took a series of photos with and without a scale. I took a photograph of each side, one edge of the bone appeared as if something had damaged it. It was sharp.

The photos took about ten minutes.

During this time, the Sergeant was on the computer in the examination room, using Google to find images of human hip bones.

What would the Police service do without Google? Seriously. I use it a lot. I often use my iPhone to google names of things, locations and postcodes. It's great.

I left the bone on the copy stand. Depending on the reply from the Forensic Archaeologist, will depend on what I do with the bone.

I took my CF card out of the camera and went to the office. The Sergeant stayed in the exam room. I got to the car park and realised he wasn't with me. I walked back to the exam room and he's stood where I left him. I look at him and say "You alright Sarge?"

"Oh, I'm coming with you? Right, of course."

I emailed the photos to the Forensic Archaeologist and within ten minutes she called back.

It's a cow she said. That's the answer we all wanted. I'm sure she was a little disappointed though. Imagine how many photos she studies and how very few of them are bones from humans.

The Sergeant was distracted with his Blackberry. I put the phone down and completed my report on the computer.

I turned and looked at him. He looked up from his phone and smiled. I explained that the phone call was from the Forensic Archaeologist.

"She said it's human"

He put his head in his hands.

"I'm joking, it's a cow!"

He called me every name under the sun. Twice. He shook my hand, said thanks and left.

I'd always reccommend that Officers take extra precautions at jobs like these. It's difficult to backtrack at a later stage. It turned out that there use to be a slaughter house near the allotments and the bones are likely to be from that. It had been chewed by a rat or two over the years. No dramas.

The bone is still on my desk in a window box. I don't want to throw it away. I'll use it at school talks or training inputs.


You'll hear them referred to as 'farms' or 'factories', the reality is they rarely look anything like a farms or factories.

In this job I have seen hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of Cannabis plants. Probably more.

People who go and see their local dealer "Rob" or "Dave" don't realise, or choose to ignore the fact, that it is this demand that creates the need for these factories to be constructed.

Its just a ten bag.

I turned in to work in the middle of a set of shifts. It was a Sunday. I was on an earlies, 0700 start. I often find myself at my desk at about 0630 anyway. It gives me a chance to have a cup of tea and some toast.

Butter or Jam? Its a very difficult decision at this hour. An Inspector once told me that toast tastes better when cut in triangles. I think he's right.

I switch my radio on when I get in. I have a clip on my belt where the radio lives all day. Wherever I go, the radio goes. I've learnt to listen to the radio when performing other tasks. My ears perk up when I hear SOCO or CSI. It's normally an Officer adding a job to our list. Sometimes Officers will ask for advice over the air.

I heard the words 'Cannabis Factory' and 'SOCO'. That job is mine. My favourite jobs are arsons. My second favourite jobs are Cannabis factories.

I answer the call over the radio, having a 'talkthrough' with the Officer. This is a conversation over the air with another person, whilst everyone else can hear. The control room just keep quiet. It's always polite to thank the control room. I mentioned before about keeping the control room happy.

"CSI Guy to Control, thank you, over"

The other CSI I was on with was busying himself with writing a statement for CPS, that was required that morning. He was more than happy to leave me to go to the Cannabis factory.

"Crack on CSI Guy" He said, barely looking up from his keyboard as he used his index fingers alternately, to type.

I finished my cold toast and tea and sent a few replies to emails.

I got my cases and put them in the van, most things I'll need at a Cannabis factory will be in my case, the rest will be in the van.

Driving that early on a Sunday is a breeze. Journeys that would normally take half an hour can be done in ten minutes.

I stopped outside the house where the Police car was. It's a giveaway and saves me looking for house numbers.

I stood for a second and looked down the road. It was just a normal street, a row of houses on each side, most had driveways where gardens should have been. Curtains were still pulled. This street was still asleep, like most in the City on a Sunday morning.

I like to have a look at the scene before I take my cases in. I find it helpful to plan the way in which I'll do things.

I spoke to the bobby at the front door. I could smell the cannabis, I find it hard to believe that these places go unnoticed for so long. I gave the bobby my collar number and name. He'd not been there long, he was still in good spirits.

I walked inside. It was a two storey, semi-detached house. It was a nice house, normal.

Many of these factories are often booby trapped. Not always to harm members of my establishment but to keep others out and protect the crop. Before I'm allowed inside, policy says the electricity board needs to attend and confirm it's safe to enter. This often results in the electric supply being terminated. This is a BBC News story relating to a booby trapped house in Bedford.
To avoid detection and large energy bills, the electricity supply is often bypassed. Normally in a very poor way. It may appear a clever idea, but the reality is that it's extremely dangerous.

Inside, this place was wrecked. It was clear that this house had been rented solely for the purpose of cultivation. The landlord has no idea how much the repairs are going to cost, and most insurers will probably wriggle their way out of any claim.

My torch lit up a system of silver ducting through the walls and ceilings. The reflecting light catching the wall and ceiling as it hit the curved section of the ducting. The ducting finished in the loft space. Each and every room had plants at various stages of growth and there was soil everywhere.

The gardener wasn't very neat. I doubt he'll be getting a reference.

I placed a yellow photo number marker in each room, I number the rooms to show where I recover items from. With each room being a mini greenhouse, it's difficult to decide which room is the front room and which is the bedroom.

The kitchen was a state. It was however cleaner than some of the kitchens I've seen in 'normal' houses. There was a plate of cooked fish on the side. It was covered in flies and it stank. I see this a lot at Cannabis factories. I don't know if the people who look after the house really like fish or more likely, it's used to mask the smell.

There was a double mattress on the floor next to the rear door. This was home for some unlucky soul. There were empty Jaffa Cake boxes next to the mattress. Someone loves Jaffa Cakes as much as me.

This factory had been discovered after a break in. A neighbour had seen unfamiliar people going over the back fence with their faces covered. I wouldn't recognise someone with their face covered either.

It's a shame the local nominals found out about this place before the Police. It's just the way it happens now.

They wanted some of the plants; actually, they wanted them all.

They had of course fled before the Police arrived. One was chased and detained by a Policeman with a German Shepherd Dog on the end of his arm. I think he suffered a gentle lick or two. I'm led to believe no pain was involved.

Once the photo markers were down, I took photos from the front garden to the loft. Everything inside the house was captured at least twice on film.

I use my flashgun with a hotshoe cable, this means I can direct the flash where I want it to go. With so many obstructions, shadows can be a problem but I make an effort to eliminate as many as I can.

What was the master bedroom now resembled The Eden Project.

There were lights hanging from the ceiling, eight of them, suspended from the ceiling by thin metal chains. The light bulbs were shaped like large test tubes. Great for fingerprints.

There were probably around 25 plants in black plastic pots. There was no soil in these pots but dirty orange clay pebbles, apparently the balance of nutrients in some soil isn't as good as the pebbles.

The walls in this room were covered with plastic sheeting. The sheeting was black on one side and white on the other, I believe is the idea of this is to avoid heat detection equipment from Police helicopters.

There was a system of black boxes screwed on a piece of chipboard on the wall. These boxes were electric transformers, each slightly smaller than a shoe box. There were enough power extension cables here to light up Disneyland. There were a number of timers set to operate the lights on a cycle.

I like photographing the timers with my macro lens. I fill the frame with the timer, the detail is incredible. The period of light and dark the plants have, can determine what stage of growth it is at.

I like to try and collect a piece of evidence from each room. I don't like giving up on a room until I find something that I'm satisfied with. I wanted a piece of that sheeting, there's had to be prints on there. I knelt down to my case and took out my multi tool from the void carefully crafted into the foam in my case, it lives there.

When it's not being used, that's where it'll be.

I flicked the knife open with one hand, it clicked into place. I started to slice through the sheeting. I feel like Ray Mears. No, I'm Bear Grylls. He's awesome.

I cut out a section of the sheet, I could hear it ripping as I sliced trhough it. I stuck a small white label on the reverse. The label had the exhibit reference on it, my initials, CSI, and a number, 7. I then folded the piece of sheet up and placed it inside a tamper evident bag.

I carry a small plastic container with me into jobs like this. Jobs where I know I'll have many exhibits. This allows me to keep them altogether and clean and tidy.

After a few minutes, you get use to the smell. It's rather pungent. Sweet. The house is full of this smell. I notice it when I go in and out of the house. It stays on my clothes for hours.

Cannabis plants go through a number of 'growth' stages. I've made it my business to understand these stages and how to identify them. I'm surprised that the books I've bought from Amazon haven't triggered a knock at the door! Cannabis run through the cycle of germination, seedling, vegetative growth and flowering.

I don't like dealing with something that I don't understand. If this happens, I'll often research it.

I've got two roles at this scene. I need to collect evidence for the cultivation, but I also need to gather evidence for the burglary offence.

I often feel that I've cleaned the place up a little whilst I've been there. I stack things as I go, then I know I've dealt with them.

I know that Officers have been through this place before I arrived, they needed to make sure there were no offenders lurking anywhere. I'm always weary of noises though. A colleague of mine found the 'gardener' hiding below floor boards at one of these not that long ago.

The plants are seized by the Officers, once I've done. They take two plants at each stage of growth. The best bet is to take two from each room, the 'gardener' will often have each growth stage in a separate room.

The plants are taken out of the soil, the roots are knocked to remove excess soil. They are then placed in brown bags. If the plants are taken in pots with soil, then the Police themselves continue to cultivate the cannabis.

Not something you'd want the Daily Mail to get hold of.

I probably spent about two hours at the scene. The length of time these scenes take often depends on how big they are. A colleague of mine, just the other day, went to a factory with around 3,000 plants. He was there a number of hours.

I needed to head back to the Office to write the job up straight after this job. There was someone in custody, I needed to present my evidence to assist with any interviews or charging decisions.

I stopped at MacDonald's on the way back. I was just hungry, I could see the girl at the window look at me in an odd manner, then I realised, she could smell the Cannabis! I'm glad I'm in an unmarked van.


Sexual Assault

After reading the 'Jizz Inspectors' by Sue Carney -, it reminded me of a scene that I had attended. I haven't yet blogged about rape or sexual offences.

It's difficult to say how common this type of offence is. I work for a large force, and like other crimes, we see a larger number of rapes than a smaller force would.

I was on call on this particular day and had got home at about 2330 hours. I often work over on a late shift. There's no one to hand work to if you haven't had time to finish it.

I hadn't eaten properly during my shift, unless you count the two Fox's Custard Creams that is.

My better half had made dinner earlier in the evening and had set some aside for me. I flicked the switch on the kettle, and put my bowl of food in the microwave.

I made tea.

I sat down and put the television on. I find it difficult to go home and go straight to bed, I need time to switch off and shut down.

After a few episodes of QI on Dave, I went to bed at about 0145 and went straight to sleep.

I was dreaming about the Royal Wedding when I was rudely awoken by my iPhone vibrating and ringing, getting louder and louder.

I'd imagine that only a second had passed, but in this time I thought it was my alarm clock, and it was time to get up. Then I thought I was in the house I use to live in. Then I thought, don't ask why, that I was in fact ringing someone myself.

"Hello" I said in a panicked voice.

"CSI Guy it's CSI Supervisor, you ok?"

"I'm sweaty" I said. I'm sweaty!? What on earth possessed me to say that? This was a supervisor I hadn't even met! She didn't really know me.

"Too much information" She said with a giggle.

"Um, yea, uh, sorry, what can I do for you?"

She then went on to explain the details of the call out, the DS who wanted a phonecall from me when I got in, and the log number and address of the job. The supervisor will often ask if I have a pen, I always say yes and pretend to write things down, reading out loud what I am meant to be writing down.

"Seevvveen, Plannnt Streeeeet"

The thing is, the job will be a piece of cake to find on the system when I get to the nick, so writing this down now is pointless. I always read the log to ensure nothing has been missed, the information often goes through three or more people before I get the phone call. It does no harm in spending ten minutes when I get in to double check everything.

I hung the phone up and walked back towards the bedroom, where my uniform was.

I looked at the clock. It was only 0226, I'd been in bed for no more than 41 minutes. It had felt like I had slept for hours. I mean, in my dream, I had been to Westminster and back!

I had a quick shower and got changed. I was in the office within twenty five minutes.

The scene was inside. It's unusual to get a call out to an indoor scene. If it's indoors, it can usually be preserved until 0700 when the other CSIs come on duty. This avoids unnecessary overtime.

For one reason or another, it was decided that I was needed at the scene sooner rather than later.

A rape was reported to have taken place at an address on the other side of the City. There was a bobby on scene guard at the front of the property.

There is always an urge to get scenes processed as soon as possible, not as quickly as possible. The problem with rushing in and scooping everything up is that it can can mean that if something comes to light later on, it may be too late to change the way the scene is processed.

Some scenes can often be processed the same way, burglaries for example. I go in, have a short talk with the victim and crack on. Fingerprint everything the offender has/may have touched, take items for chemical treatment and look for other forensic opportunities.

With a rape, the full circumstances need to be obtained before I go and start the scene. This if for many reasons, reasons that probably don't need explaining here.

I had a full brief on the circumstances from the DS.

I checked that I had a condom module kit or two in the van- I did. I grabbed a few other bits that may come in useful.

The condom module kit comes sealed. There's a sterile plastic tub and lid. When the lid clicks down, it can't be removed without breaking the seal. There's a blue clip to put on the open end of the condom and a tamper evident bag to put everything in for transport.

The clip is like the sort of thing you clamp around your bag of peas for the freezer, only smaller. It keeps fluid on the inside, inside; and the fluid on the outside, outside.

I drove to the scene, past a football ground. The area around the football ground is eerie. I don't like it. The plus side is, there's a CCTV camera on each street corner. I don't like football.

I got to the scene within about fifty minutes of the call. The bobby had been there for about two hours at this point. He knew very little. About the scene that is. I'm sure he knew lots about other things.

I opened the front door and walked in, it stank. I couldn't put my finger on the smell, I don't think I wanted to.

I walked into each room, one at a time, making notes.

The kitchen, or the room that was meant to be the kitchen, was full of rubbish. I get grief when I leave a plate next to sink overnight- "It washes easier if you do it straight away..." She moans.

This place was something else. The only way this place would be clean is if a team of five gutted it out and started again.

It turns out the property was residence for a lone male. The property however was meant to be empty. I think there was some discrepancy over ownership. That was what we were being told anyway.

The downstairs living room had a single bed in one corner. There was a small coffee table next to the bed with various pieces of debris on it. There were magazines everywhere, old magazines. I saw something dated 1996.

I went through the upstairs rooms. They were full of boxes and inside the boxes were possessions. They look like possessions of an elderly person. I thought that maybe the old occupant of the property had passed or moved away. Irrelevant anyway, the offender wasn't elderly.

The bathroom was at the front of the house. It was dark, the light didn't work. The light tends to blow in the bathroom more than anywhere else in a house. I have no idea why. I know that's where I'd want a light. I used my crime lite to look around. The bright white light caught something in the bowl, it was a mix of faeces and paper. I held my breath.

The offender wasn't in custody. I had to gather evidence to be used when he was arrested. This was his residence, if you could call it that, I had to collect the evidence before he returned. The officer was there to make sure I was safe and to arrest the offender should he return. Someone's got my back.

Once I made my notes, I went back to the van. It was nice to walk into the cold night air. I had a slight sweat on. I think it's because my body knew I was meant to be in bed.

I took the gloves I had on, off. I was about to touch my camera, I didn't want anything from the house on my camera. I put two new pairs on. This meant that if I touched something dirty, I could take that glove off and still have gloves on. It makes my hands wrinkly though.

I went back into the house and took photos of each room. I take the photos so that anyone viewing the album feels like they are 'walking' through the scene. If I photograph something of interest, I will take a general shot to show it's location in the scene and then a slightly closer shot and then a close up shot using my macro lens. My macro lens shows an immense level of detail. I can take a photo so close, that the item will fill the frame.

Once I had finished the photographs I went outside. The officer was just as bored as when I had arrived. Up to this point, I had probably been there for at least an hour already. The officer had a small supply of bottled water, it was a welcome gift. I took a few minutes outside having a drink of water and talking about allsorts.

I thought to myself, "I hope he doesn't ask me about football" I haven't got a fricking clue.

We finished our chit chat and I got ready to collect evidence. I put a white suite on at this stage. This was for two reasons. The first, the property was a hole. I wanted to go home without any of the house left on my clothes. Secondly, I was going to be looking for used condoms now. I don't fancy spermatozoa on my work boots.

I had a mask on at this point as I would be close to evidence that could contain DNA. I don't want the FSS to identify me as the offender. That'd be a career buster.

The single mattress had no bed sheets on it. It had a variety of stains all over it. There's two ways of recovering these stains. I could cut the top of the mattress off and bag it up, or I could just take the whole thing. We have bags for mattresses.

I turned it over, initially to search underneath. When I looked at the underside, there was a large stain. It was a body fluid but not the obvious one. This stain gave cause for concern, this meant the mattress had to be seized, in it's entirety.

I can't get a mattress into a bag alone. I went and spoke to the bobby and helped him into a scene suit. It took us a few minutes but we managed it, though it was a bit like an episode of The Chuckle Brothers.

We struggled down the hallway and outside to the van. It was the early hours of the morning but I could still see people watching us. There was one female across the street in a first floor window. There was a net curtain, that she thought kept her from view. I could see her, watching. I wonder what she thought was in this large bag.

The Officer kept his suit on after that and stood at the door. Maybe he thought I may need his help again, maybe he liked the suit?

I searched the upstairs rooms and recovered a couple of items of clothing. These items could belong the victim. They were in my photos, to show the location.

I didn't find anything in the kitchen, amongst the piles of rubbish. I find searching rubbish both interesting and disgusting at the same time, you can tell a lot about someone by looking at their rubbish.

This guy loved chicken, KFC in particular.

Chicken bones, mayonnaise, sweetcorn, tissues, boxes, receipts, crisp packets, tea bags and a sock, a sock? There's always rubbish that you can't figure out what exactly it is.

I got to the hallway and the understairs cupboard. There were two black bin liners of rubbish, I opened the first and started to sort through it. Luckily, there was an unused bucket next to them. I put the things I wasn't interested in into this.

I wonder when the bins were last collected? Are the bin men on strike? Is this guy on strike? There was weeks worth of rubbish here.

I'd gotton used to the smell by now, this wasn't an issue. There was the odd fly that wanted to know what was in the bag too. Probably hungry, there was plenty for him to eat. I worked my way through the rubbish, I thought it was going to be a wasted task. It wasn't.

I quickly found a torn condom wrapper, things are looking good. There's got to be a condom in here somewhere, right?

Halfway down, on the side of a KFC Pepsi Max cup was a used condom. I removed a pair of gloves and took a close up photo of the condom's location.

I fastened the blue clip over the end of the condom and placed it delicately into the container. I clicked the lid down and put it into the tamper evident bag and then sealed it.

Now, I didn't know which rubbish bag was the most recent. Just because I had found a condom and wrapper, I still had to look through the rest. I worked my way through both bags. This took some time, but in total I found four condom wrappers and five condoms.

The incident I was investigating was one act of sexual intercourse. Where were these other condoms from? A girlfriend? One night stands? Other victims?

I found the last wrapper in the beans tub, inside a KFC box, inside a carrier bag.

No stone unturned.

I gathered all of the evidence together and loaded the van. I carefully took my suit off, ensuring that the outside of the suit didn't touch me, or my clothes. I put that into a brown bag I had made for rubbish and then took my gloves off, turning them inside out as I did. Gloves are always last off.

I did one last sweep of the place to ensure I had everything that belonged to me and headed off.

It only took my a short while to get everything written up and a report filed. The condoms went in the freezer.

I headed home just as the first early crew were coming in the door. Time for bed and probably Westminster again.


Cup of tea?

I was on late shift, 1400-2200, I got into the office slightly early as I needed to sort a few things out.

I only had one job to go to, which is unusually a quiet start to the shift. I knew I had to get some statements typed up and sent out for a couple of serious jobs I'd attended recently. One related to a murder investigation, the DC had asked me to complete it as soon as possible. The album of photographs had already been on my desk for three days.

I like looking at my photos in print. Although the photo lab had put one of my photos in on the wrong alignment. That bugs me. I like things to be right.

It only took me an hour or so to get the statements sorted and the albums exhibited for court.

I left the office for the burglary on another division. The bobby at the job had point to pointed (ptp) me for advice.

The airwave radios we use allow us to have a personal conversaion between two users. This avoids taking up space on the normal channel, the control room can continue to despatch officers to other jobs. This is known as point to point.

It turns out the offender had been disturbed by the occupants and had run through gardens to get away. In the panic and fence hopping, the offender had dropped his woolly hat.


The Forensic Science Service work very hard to abstract DNA from items such as hats for me, well, us.

I gave some advice to the officer about how to recover the hat and how to preserve any DNA for me.

When I got to the address, the officer had already moved off to the next job. I fingerprinted a number of the things, including the point of entry and the games console cases dropped in the garden.

I was stood in the kitchen when the occupant offerred me a cup of tea. I could see the state of the kitchen, it wasn't like my kitchen. "No thanks, I don't drink hot drinks" Which was a complete lie. A white one however.

I quickly became aware of very distinctive glove marks. Its always disappointing. I double check that the occupants havent worn gloves inside for any reason. I never stop fingerprinting straight away when I find glovemarks, for two reasons.

The first reason, there may be more than one offender, the second offender may not be wearing gloves. It happens, a lot.

The second reason, demonstrated very well by an Officer recently. When you are weaing gloves, performing certain tasks can become difficult. It only takes one slip of the mind, to whip a glove off and complete the task without the hassle of a glove.

At this particular address, the offenders weren't inside for very long and had touched very little. I found glovemarks on all the items they handled. I sealed the wolly hat up and left.

I was passed another job to photograph a poor old chap at the local hospital who had an argument with an axe. Well, the argument was with the person holding the axe, which was repeatedly struck on his head. Blade side.

He'd been on the ward for a couple of days.

I don't like hospitals. They are full of germs. The parking is a nightmare too. I found a large box which said, NO PARKING. I parked there. I checked in with Security, who confirmed that space was often used for the 'likes of you'. The likes of you? What did he mean by that? Smile and walk away CSI Guy.

I got to the ward and spoke with some lovely nurses on the ward reception desk. They had a little joke about my Hummer and CSI:NY. I made a joke about Holby City. They asked if I wanted a cup of tea. Two offers in one day.

Now, tea at the hospital was likely to be a good idea. it would probably be in a disposable cup, which hadn't been used before and was likely to be from a machine. It would also be made by a nurse, who wouldn't do anything untoward. I didn't have time though. Injury photographs take no time at all. I told them I'll come back for the tea another day.

I'll add that ward to the list of tea stops.

The gent with the head injuries was sleeping. The nurse woke him up to take his blood pressure reading so I got in straight after that. I took a number of photos, one of his head and shoulders, so when we look at the album in months to come, we know who it it. I then took a number of close up photos of the injuries with a scale. I used my macro lens.

I enjoy taking photos, they're normally not of stapled head wounds though.

I had another two burglaries to go to after the hospital. They were both next to each other in a block of flats.

I had heard of the estate before, I knew where it was but hadn't been there yet. It's on a different division to where I normally work. I parked outside and I wasn't impressed. It looked horrid.

I got my van from the back of the van and walked towards the front door. Beer cans littered the pathway outside, there was a used condom and a distinct smell of Cannabis coming from an address nearby.

This will be fun, I thought.

I knocked at the door which swung open, it had been broken in during the burgalry. I saw a figure approach the porch door through the marbled glass. The door was opened by an eighty year old female. She was a lovely person. Her flat was tidy, clean and had lots of photos of grandchildren. One showed a young lad with a vest and shorts on at a sports day.

She saw me look at it, and said "That's Tommy. he's twelve now. He won that race"

It looked like the offenders had picked the whole flat up, shook it and dropped it back down again. There were things everywhere. She had kept coins in coffee jars in the wardrobe. She had sorted the coins into denominations in each jar. She had placed a small amount of kitche towel in the bottom of each jar. One jar had been smashed, there was glass all over the bed.

She offerred me a cup of tea and a sandwich. She reminded me of my gran. Her flat was a mess, her valuables had gone and she was alone, yet she wasn't worried about that. She wanted to make sure I was looked after. I agreed to the cup of tea, with one sugar but politely declined the sandwich. I couldn't eat her food as well as drink her tea.

She told me that she had been burgled three times including this occassion. She had toughened to it. She said "Those buggers are lucky I wasn't here, I would have given them what for with my stick"

I laughed with her.

Good thing is I left with lots of fingerpints and some items for chemical treatment.


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