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Crime Scene Investigation

What can I expect from a CSI visit to my crime?

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A full and thorough professional crime scene investigation, carried out by highly trained, capable and competent officers. They will attend the scene of your crime and assess what they can see whilst asking you questions that will help them establish what has happened. Based on observations and the answers to questions, they will start their examination. The aims for a CSI at a crime scene is to identify evidence left by offenders and then recover it so it will assist in identifying those involved in your crime.

What evidence types will CSIs look for at a crime scene?

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Anything left by an offender at a crime scene is seen as evidence. However, the main types of evidence CSIs tend to find are fingerprints, DNA and footprints. In some scenes it will be obvious to the CSI that there are no footprints or DNA present, so they will focus the scene examination around trying to find fingerprints. In other crime types it may be that only DNA sources or footprints have been left and the CSI will respond accordingly.

What crimes do CSI visit?

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The CSI department are committed to attending all house burglaries and this is also the case with a large majority of burglary offences that have occurred at business premises. Where a shed or a garage have been broken into we rely on the attending police officer to identify realistic forensic opportunities for our officers to recover. If the crime type is a serious incident CSI will always attend.

Do CSI fingerprint cars?

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Yes, if your car has been stolen and the police officer dealing with the crime marks the vehicle as one for us to examine when it is found. If someone has broken into your car and either cut themselves or the attending police officer believes there is something for us to examine, then CSI will normally attend to examine the vehicle.

Does the CSI department make appointments to come to crime scenes?

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Crime Scene Investigators find it difficult to make appointments as each of the scenes they attend are different and, depending on the severity of the crime, have different evidence types present. This means some examinations can take much longer than others. What we endeavour to do is contact you and arrange a reasonable time frame in which we can get to see you. Please make sure the attending police officer has all the right numbers for us to contact you.

How does a CSI examine a crime scene for fingerprints?

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CSIs have a number of different specialist powders and brushes available to give us the best chance of finding fingerprints in a crime scene. Once a fingerprint is located, the CSI may photograph the fingerprint or more than likely recovery the print by using adhesive tapes and acetate sheeting. They will ensure that each recovered lift is of an appropriate standard so it can be used and will endorse each fingerprint ‘lift’ with a unique reference number.

What happens to the fingerprints the CSIs find?

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They are remotely transferred via the latest technology to the Regional Identification Bureau who will then search the fingerprints against the national fingerprint database. If a fingerprint is identified to a suspect the investigating police officers are notified as soon as possible.

What if there is blood inside the crime left by the offenders?

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The CSI that comes to your crime scene will be careful that they do not contaminate the blood so will put on a pair of gloves and a face mask before recovering the sample. This can either be done swabbing the blood, or any other DNA source the CSI may see. If the blood is on an object such as paper etc, they may recover that item and leave the blood on it.

What happens to it after the CSIs have recovered it?

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The CSI will ensure the sample will be submitted to what we call a forensic service provider who will carry out scientific work on the item and compare any DNA profile that comes from the sample against the national DNA database. Again, if there is a match between the scene sample and a suspect the investigating officer is notified as soon as possible.

How do I get rid of the powders that have been used to find fingerprints?

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The CSI that attends your scene will give you all the advice you need to help clean up after their examination. As a general rule the CSI department would recommend neat washing up liquid applied by a damp cloth on to the surface, ensuring that you rub along any grain in the surface. Then wipe the residue away with a clean damp cloth.

What happens next? How do I find out the CSI examination result?

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Again, at the end of their examination the CSI should tell you what they have done and what evidence they have recovered. If you weren’t present at the time CSI attended the investigating officer will be able to access our reports and keep you up to date with what’s happening to any evidence we recovered. Any recovered evidence is processed and the results of any comparison work will be passed on to the investigating officer.

If I have been assaulted, will CSI photograph the injuries?

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If the injuries are such that the police officer dealing with the incident can record the injuries on their blackberry then CSI will not be attending. However should the injuries be unfortunate enough of a serious nature, then CSI will take the photographs. In addition to this, CSI will also take photographs related to incidents of domestic abuse and hate crimes.

Can CSI offer home security advice?

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Whilst this is not an area we specialise in, CSIs will direct you towards the force’s Pre Crime Unit (details below) who have the expertise and specialist knowledge to help you.

Can we contact CSI direct?

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Because CSIs spend the majority of their time out at scenes, the two offices are often not staffed. We recommend that you dial 101, quote the incident number the police officer has provided you with, and whoever takes your call will take any messages for us and update the incident for you. CSI will not attend any incidents unless the request has come from the police.

What is a Crime Scene Investigator?

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CSIs examine crime scenes to gather forensic evidence that will ultimately lead to the detection and prosecution of criminals.

CSIs are not police officers, they are support staff: civilians who are employed by police forces.

Nottinghamshire Police CSI unit provides cover 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. 

CSIs are trained to identify, record and recover forensic evidence from all types of crime, ranging from criminal damage, burglary and vehicle crime (known as volume crime) to more serious crime types including arson and murder. 

However, a CSI could be asked to attend almost any incident where the potential for forensic evidence has been identified. Unlike CSI Miami CSIs in Nottinghamshire do not analyse evidence themselves or arrest criminals!

CSIs use a wide variety of techniques and equipment to recover forensic evidence. This may include recording the crime scene by taking photographs, powdering for offender’s fingerprints, searching for footprints or marks left by tools, taking swabs of blood or collecting fibres, hair, paint or glass.

How do you become a CSI?

Entry requirements vary between police forces so you should check with the force in the area where you want to work first. Nottinghamshire Police CSIs are required to have a science based qualification to A level standard (in Biology or Chemistry) with previous experience in a practical scientific role. Many of our newer CSIs have gained degrees in Forensic Science at University.

Qualifications or experience in photography can also be useful and may be essential for some forces as it is a vital part of our role. It may also come as a surprise that CSIs spend most of their shift working on their own, so you will need to be self-motivated, able to solve problems and have a great eye for detail.

All police forces will carry out a check of your background and employment history. A criminal record will not always prevent you from gaining employment in the police service but you will be required to declare any convictions you may have.

Driving to and from crime scenes in a fully kitted out CSI van is a big part of our job so you will need a full driving licence.

 

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