Cell 8 is set up by Sussex Police as a scene of crime
Scenes of crime officers (SOCOs) collect evidence from crime scenes.
They are not police officers but employed by the police force and work closely alongside police officers.
SOCOs’ work includes:
•protecting the crime scene to prevent evidence being spoilt or destroyed
•establishing what evidence the investigating police officer requires and deciding what the best methods are for obtaining it
•recording the scene using photography and video
•searching for footprints and marks left by tools or weapons
•gathering evidence such as fibres, blood, hair, paint or glass using various techniques
•putting samples into protective packaging and sending them to forensic laboratories or fingerprint bureaus for analysis
•producing written records and updating and maintaining systems with details of evidence.
Retired Police Officer
I dealt with my first murder, as a newly appointed Scenes of Crime Officer in 1976. Two young men, desperate for money, attacked and robbed an elderly lady, living by herself in a small bungalow in the Patcham area of the City. One of the youths regularly cleaned the windows of the bungalow. It was their downfall, of course, when they realised that one of them could be identified. So they beat and kicked the poor lady to death.
As one of the men claimed he had often been in the bungalow to get water etc., discovering his fingerprints in the bungalow wouldn’t be of much evidential value. However, the second young man categorically denied ever having been inside the dwelling. By the position of the body in the narrow hallway it would seem likely that the attacker could easily have placed his hands against the walls to give added support in kicking the victim as she lay on the ground. The walls were covered by a lightish pattern wallpaper and with the guidance and assistance of the Inspector in charge of the Fingerprint Dept, it was decided to ‘paint’ the wallpaper with ninhydrin. Something not having been done before. Lo and behold, fingermarks were developed that matched those of the second man. These were photographed and subsequently produced in court, both sides agreeing and accepting that the wall paper itself could not be produced. Confessions swiftly followed. Both men were subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment.