You’ve probably already heard of a CSI (Crime Scene Investigator), made famous through an American TV series in the 2000’s, but have you ever heard of a SOCO (A Scenes Of Crime Officer)?
Whilst a CSI is the name given in the USA, A SOCO (Scenes of Crime Officer) is the UK equivalent.
In this article, we’ll look at the role of a Scenes of Crime Officer, what they do, what evidence they collect, and why it is so importnat you follow certain advice in criminal situations, such as what you should do if you discover your home has been broken into.
Table of Contents
What Is A Scenes Of Crime Officer?
A Scenes Of Crime Officer (SOCO) is a UK forensic investigator who investigates and collates evidence in police crime scenes. This evidence is collected, sorted and stored to help with crime investigations in real time. Evidence collected from crime scenes can also be used in court at a later date to secure criminal convictions.
A SOCO is a member of the police family; although they are not police officers, they are employed by constabularies across the country as police civilian staff.
What Does A SOCO Do?
A SOCO is called upon by police officers where certain crimes have been commited. These crimes are usually higher up the scale in severity, like burglaries, sexual assualts, and murder scenes. They are prioritised for these crimes, but they can help in the investigation and collection of evidence in crimes with lower severity, like assault.
When a Scenes Of Crime Officer is called to a crime scene, the first and most important job is to secure the scene. This helps prevent cross contamination for instance, and also gives them a sterile environment to collect evidence. One of the first things they are likely to ascertain is where people at the crime scene have been, what they’ve done, and what they’ve touched. this gives them a starting point to establish where cross contamination has occurred, and it’s important for them to understand this form the start, as collecting contaminated evidence (like a police officers fingerprints or DNA) can have a negative effect on the evidence collected.
Scenes Of Crime Officers also dress in special coveralls, and they’ll often wear masks, gloves and eye protection – this not only prevents cross contamination of evidence, it also prevents them coming into contact with potentially hazardous substances, or blood or other bodily fluids.
A police officer is trained to keep a crime scene sterile where possible. They are trained to use the same route into and out of a crime scene to initially deal with the crime, to reduce the liklihood of cross contamination.
Once the scene is secured, a SOCO can collect evidence from the crime scene. This can include a multitude of methods, such as photographing the crime scene. They’ll look for fingerprints, footprints, hairs, blood or anything that can shed light on what has happened and who has been there.
For example, in a burglary, a SOCO will often take evidence from the point of entry, and look for telltale signs of a person gaining entry by looking for fingerprints (on glass for example). Once these fingerprints are collected, they can be run through software to see if it matches anybody that has had their fingerprints taken and stored on the Police National Computer (PNC).
If they are not on the PNC, the evidence is stored and can also be matched in the future against any suspects that may be caught in the future.
DNA is also an importnat piece of the puzzle, and works like fingerprints. Hairs and blood are excellent ways of collecting DNA, and can also be run through the Polcie National Computer looking for potential matches.
What Equipment Does A SOCO Use?
The main pieces of equipment that a SOCO uses are usually, but not limited to:
- A camera
- A video recorder
- numbered markers
- DNA swabs
- Fingerprint dusting equipment
- Trace evidence collecting equipment
- DNA sampling equipment
- Molding equipment (for tracing shoe prints etc.)
What Evidence Does A SOCO Look For?
The evidence a SOCO looks for depends on the crime they are investigating.
For example, in a murder, they’ll be looking for points of entry in the hope there will be fingerprints or DNA left behind. They’ll also look for the murder weapon if it is present, again hoping for fingerprints and DNA to be left behind. And they’ll also look at the victim and collect trace evidence from the body, clothing and fingernails.
Once this evidence has been collected, it can then be anlaysed at bespoke laboratories.
Who Can become A SOCO?
A SOCO usually possesses a degree in a relevant subject, such as a science or chemistry based subject. This gives the person a sound scientific foundation, where further training will be given to become an effective and efficient SOCO.
More information can be found here on the qualifications required for a SOCO.
It does take a certain type of person to fulfill this role, however.
Most crime scenes will not be pleasant, and they will be dealing with some horrific crimes, including murder and rape, and will also have to deal with human blood.
In short then, a Scenes Of Crime Officer collects evidence from certain crime scenes.
This evidence can help the investigation in the short term, by potentially identifying suspects, and it can also help in the long term by securing criminal convictions where other evidence is not as robust.
Forensic evidence is used in court frequently to secure convictions.
Related Links & Posts
Here are our some other links you may like to visit from our website.
- Essential Checklist: What you Should Do After Being Burgled
- 75 Ways To Make Your Home Secure
- 25 Ways To Secure Your Garage
- The Layered Security Approach
Questions & Comments
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Stay Safe. Stay Secure.