A new system of deploying Scenes of Crime Officers (SOCOs) to incidents has been introduced across the tri-force Scientific Services departments in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire to provide a better quality of service to victims of crime.
SOCOs – also known as Crime Scene Investigators (CSIs) – are now deployed by Cambridgeshire control room to cover all three forces. Irrespective of geographical boundaries, the teams can be sent to the towns that are the busiest on a particular day, so a Hertfordshire SOCOs could pick up jobs in Bedfordshire or Cambridgeshire or vice versa.
Crucially, the SOCOs are now also mobile in specially-kitted out vans so not only can they get to incidents quickly, but they can upload technical information straight away including uploading photographs of fingerprints as the van has WiFi and is 4G enabled.
“We are the first police forces in the country to mobilise our SOCOs like this and we’ve had extensive interest from other forces across the country, as we are already seeing excellent results,” said Mick Hanlon, Head of Crime Scene Examination for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire. “SOCOs can look up incidents from their van in real time and go to incidents straight away.”
Just recently, on Saturday July 9, 2016, a SOCO sent an image of a knife blade suspected to have been used in an attempted murder in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire to the Scientific Services department. “This is an excellent example of the timeliness of the new digital transfer of fingermarks – a suspect for an attempted murder was identified within the hour!”
The suspect was arrested, charged and remanded.
“Like police officers, SOCOs are far more mobile, their van is effectively their office. This means that we can get to victims of crime quickly to capture as much forensic evidence as possible, which means that we are more likely to get good results, which will hopefully lead to an identification and arrest.”
Mick said: “Previously SOCOs had to dust the fingermark with a specific powder, lift the mark with adhesive tape and physically return to police headquarters. Now, we can get a much better quality of fingerprint by taking a photo, which can be uploaded quickly in the van before SOCOs return to their stations with other forensic material.”
He said: “As a tri-force, we have pulled together all the technology available to provide the best possible service for victims of crime across the three counties. This has enabled us to get better recovery of evidence, get to scenes more quickly and get the best possible quality of evidence, increasing the chances of recovering stolen property and enabling victims to move on with their lives.”
The new system went live in April 2016.