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March 2013
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Writing a Crime Scene

Hi, any tips for writing a scene revolving around a crime scene and the steps of putting a body into police protection. Any advice links to help me write it? :D- Anonymous

No need, dear anon! I’m a forensics student. (This is how it works in the UK, if anyone knows more about how it works in the US or other countries, let me know)

  1. It’s not like you see on TV.

Anyone who’s in a crime scene is suited and booted. That means coveralls, masks, shoe covers and two pairs of gloves. Why two, you ask? Because when you put on a pair of gloves, one of them has been touched by your bare skin. A second pair removes any of your own contaminants that could transfer to the scene. Anyone removes their gear at any point, they’re out of the scene and any evidence they gathered is inadmissible in court.

It’s very rare that police officers actually enter the official scene. Chances are, they’re just for keeping the bystanders/journalists out of the cordon. If it’s a fire, a fire investigator (also in gear) will be present. There is no glamorous female in heels poking and prodding evidence with a scrunched up glove or a tissue.

    2. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, gets written down.

Seriously, there’s a log for everything. Photography log of all pictures taken, managers log of what happened and when, transient details (weather, lighting, smells, sounds, etc.) a log of who entered and exited the scene, a log of all evidence recovered. All evidence must be labelled, and then relabeled whenever it changes hands. If the chain of custody is missing sections, the evidence is inadmissible.

     3. Most testing happens in a lab, and nobody knows everything!

Unless you’re doing presumptive tests (which are tests to determine what a substance/stain is, although they’re not 100% accurate, some substances produce false positives) then all tests happen at a lab, and never by the same people at the scene. A CSI does his/her job, and hands over to a lab tech, who does their job, and hands the results to the police, who submit their evidence to court.

          4. A body is not moved straight away.

No, really. That body stays put until you’ve packaged everything else. Knives are left in bodies, ropes are cut and marked on both ends of the cut, and then they’re bagged. Once they’re bagged, somebody signs to say the body left the scene, then somebody else signs to say when it arrived at the lab, and finally they sign when it gets handed over to a morgue after the investigation is complete. Bodies are also kept until the case is over. If a case is declared cold, the body is buried or cremated. Bodies can be exhumed with court orders. The body is the “property” of the lab, rather than the police.

That’s all I have to offer, this link has more:

http://science.howstuffworks.com/csi.htm

Any specific details you need, you can either use my personal here (I have anon disabled, sorry) or you ask here again, but request me in your ask!

-C

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