There's Been a Murder

Its not Cracker. Robbie Coltrane is nowhere to be seen.

I work in a very busy force area. We have a large number of Murders compared to many other forces.

I've been in service with this force for four years. In this time, I've attended more Murder scenes than some CSIs in other forces will in their entire career.

I've seen some things that are truly horrific and I've seen things I never thought one human could do to another.

Don't get me wrong, we don't have a Murder every day, not yet, although sometimes it feels like it. Most of our time we visit volume crime scenes, we visit dozens of houses a day for burglaries.

Some Murder scenes I've worked on have been high profile, in the news for days and days. Some never even make the local rag. I've seen myself on most of the major News channels- I know it's me, you don't. I look like every other person in a hooded white suit!

I remember all of the murder scenes, I especially remember the people. When you see someone in such horrendous circumstances, you don't tend to forget them.

I remember the first time I saw brain and skull pieces on the floor, as small as confetti. I wondered what it was, now I recognise it instantly.

The smell is unforgettable. Strangely, you get very used to it. I'll never eat pickled onion Monster Munch again.

Murder scenes are ultimately what we train for. There's not many other crimes that will need more attention than a Murder scene.

The jobs come to light in many ways. People report not seeing their neighbour for a few days, the milk bottles are stacking up. Someone calls us after hearing a disturbance. Someone calls an ambulance after bashing someone's head in. They call us.

Whichever way it's reported, the initial attending Officers will secure and preserve the scene. A cordon is raised and no one else enters the scene. A log book is then kept and everyone who needs access to the scene has to give their name and it's recorded.

By the time this has happened and we're notified, it could be another hour before we arrive. There's usually some press interest, depending on the time of day.

We'll often speak with CID before attending. There will be a team of Detectives assigned to the incident too. The Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) will often have a briefing with the Crime Scene Manager and devise an initial plan of action.

We don our white suits, two pairs of gloves, a mask and footwear protectors. This usually gets the press interested, you know straight away that we're not here for a car break.

If required, we'll lay stepping plates. Small, metal, square plates, raised slightly off the ground which allow us to walk through a scene without disturbing any footwear evidence.

Someone is nominated to record the scene with a video camera as well as a digital camera. I hate hearing my voice on a camera, it sounds nothing like I think it sounds, but exactly as everyone else hears it. I often volunteer to do the video, the more I do it, I guess the less I'll hate it... Plus this gives me a good chance to have a look around the scene, take it all in and have a good think about it.

One of the priorities, aside identifying the offender(s), is to process the victim, in order to get them transported to a mortuary for a Post Mortem examination - see my post on my first PM here . Depending on the nature of their death, will depend on what we do when processing the victim.

We'll often try to recover trace evidence before moving the victim. We have a supply of sealed kits for recovering various different types of trace evidence. Being sealed and one use, means that they are sterile before we use them. Taking the time to do this before we move the victim minimises the risk of losing any evidence when transporting them to the mortuary. 

We take hair combings, nail scrapings or clippings, swabs from various external parts of the body and sometimes fibre tapings. These minute pieces of evidence could be the difference between linking an offender to a scene or not.

We'll often take nail clippings from victims. Holding a lifeless, often cold hand, whilst clipping their nails over a large sterile white sheet is an odd task. You think clipping a child's fingernail is tricky? Give this a try.

One thing that I'll never get use to doing is undressing the victim. Their clothes provide forensic opportunities and require seizing and individually sealing in appropriate evidence bags. A colleague once seized Crime Scene Investigation pants from a victim. If only they knew.

The victim will almost always leave the scene naked. They will always be inside two 'body' bags. The inner bag is lightweight and thin. The outer bag is heavy duty and are larger than the first. The outer bag has a number of handles manufactured in it to make it easier to carry.

Standby for a post on a specific Murder case I attended.

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