I’ve been a CSI with Lancashire Constabulary for 24 years (we used to be called Scenes of Crime Officers) and I was one of the first ‘civilians’ to take on this role. The entire CSI department is now totally support staff, instead of police officers.
I had previously worked in laboratories so had experience at working to strict protocols and carrying out detailed work requiring close attention. What I wasn’t prepared for was dealing with the public – especially in difficult and challenging circumstances. Fortunately, working closely with experienced colleagues soon got me used to it and I realised that it is one of the most rewarding parts of the job. Every day we meet victims of crime who are upset, and at times angry, and developing good personal communication skills, and enjoying working with the public, is essential to the role.
The job itself has evolved over the years – when I first started fingerprints were the main evidence type which we recovered and we didn’t even consider DNA. One of the areas where the role has changed dramatically is in public expectations.
Years ago very few people knew what we really did, but now with the popularity of TV programmes people have a vivid imagination of what we can achieve in the real world. However, It’s exciting to think of what lies ahead and what we will be able to do in another twenty years.
After many years as a frontline CSI I completed extra training, took on more responsibilities and became a Crime Scene Manager and more recently a Senior CSI. These roles allow me to attend the most serious of crime types and work with specialists performing roles such as blood pattern analysis, forensic archaeology, forensic anthropology and fire investigation. There are often opportunities for Continuous Professional Development and in the last few years I have completed courses in Bomb Scene Management, Forensic Human Identification, Disaster Victim Identification, Search for Concealed Human Remains and Counter Terrorism.
CSI’s are an integral part of any major incident and the colleagues we work alongside include detectives, analysts, exhibits’ officers, CCTV operators and search officers. As well as examining the scenes we attend briefings and forensic strategy meetings, where we pass on information about how the crime was carried out, what we’ve seen/ found, and illustrate this with videos or photographs.
This is a job where we deal with people in the worst of circumstances which can take its toll, and it’s fair to say that at times it feels like an emotional roller coaster. However, the personal satisfaction gained by finding evidence which identifies an offender is huge, and never more pronounced than when we have comforted a distressed victim at the scene.
Senior CSI - West Division