Crime Scene House launched at UWE

Issue date: 20 January 2009

A finger print Friday 23 January 2009 – Crime Scene House, Upper Lodge, UWE Glenside Campus

Forensic Science students from the University of the West of England and local police will have the opportunity to practise crime scene investigation at a new crime scene house that will be launched on Friday 23 January 2009.

Six rooms in the 19th century Upper Lodge at UWE's Glenside Campus have been specially adapted to stage a variety of simulated crime scenes. In setting up the facility, the University has worked closely with Avon and Somerset Constabulary who will lead the interest group of regional police forces wishing to use this important training resource for the South West of England.

Fritjof Körber, Principal Lecturer in Forensic Science at UWE, said, “This resource is an exciting development for the university. We can simulate the modus operandi and physical evidence that might be left behind by criminals committing various types of crimes from burglary and murder to child abduction and cannabis farming to name a few.

“It is exciting that we can now devise complex scenarios, where the examination of each room contributes to solving a jigsaw puzzle of clues. The house includes six rooms that will be used for crime simulation, a lounge, kitchen, study, two bedrooms and a bathroom. It is surprising how many criminals do not restrict their movements and activities to those needed for the purpose of their crime, so even in a simple burglary one might find evidence such as partially eaten food in the kitchen or finger marks in the bathroom.

“The adaptations to the house include the installation of Perspex wall coverings so that we can create blood patterns, and removable floor tiles to simulate spillage or burn damage in an arson case. Every room has CCTV and two-way voice communication, and we have a briefing room that seats about 15 people so that the briefings can be held without the risk of contaminating the scene.

“There is also a control room that enables us to observe teams examining the scenes and to record their efforts. Recordings can subsequently be used by the students or practitioners to critically evaluate their performance. We believe that self assessment is an important element in helping students and crime scene examiners to become or remain proficient, and the recording facilities will be a cornerstone of performance enhancement.

“This facility is critical to maintaining our Forensic Science Society accreditation which demands that students are given the opportunity to analyse a variety of scenes.”

Martyn Bradford, Head of Scientific Investigations at Avon and Somerset Constabulary is excited at the potential for training his force's crime scene investigators and police officers. He said, “The Crime Scene House offers Scientific Investigations an ideal opportunity to both improve its approach to the competency assessment and training for a range of its SI staff (particularly CSI) using simulated exercises in a modern immersive learning environment, as well as creating a realistic and controlled environment which will allow SI staff to be able to experiment with current and new techniques and procedures (particularly relating to serious and major crime) which rarely happens at present.

“Another important benefit will be to have UWE forensic expertise available close-by in order to be able to share ideas for performance improvement as well as future research projects.”

Steve West, Vice Chancellor, said, “This is a fantastic resource that will boost the opportunity for our students to experience realistic crime scenes. We're also delighted to share the crime scene house with the regional police forces.”


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