VIDEO: CSI Miami, eat your heart out! Day in the life of Barking’s crime scene experts
- Credit: Archant
There’s never a dull day for the borough’s scene of crime officers, as I found out when I spent a morning shadowing senior forensic practitioner Jake Maselino.
The day started at the force’s Fresh Wharf Custody Base, where the team of 10 operates from.
Several calls had come in overnight that required the presence of a scene of crime officer, so after a quick call to two burglary victims to make sure they were at home, Jake and I were driving off to our first job.
“Calls come in overnight, and then we can also get called to others throughout the day,” Jake explained.
“I can end up going anywhere in London if there’s a major incident and nobody in that borough is qualified to deal with it.”
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A specialist fire investigator, Jake also helped identify victims of the Marchioness disaster in the Thames 25 years ago.
The jobs we were attending, though, were far more routine.
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Two families living on the same estate had returned home the previous evening to find they had been burgled.
When we entered the first house, Jake and I were shown upstairs to the bathroom, where the intruder had entered through the window.
“He was wearing gloves,” Jake said after a quick scan of the window frame. I was amazed he had managed to work it out so quickly – but he used a torch to show me a faint mark with thin lines running through it.
“You can see the lines from the glove on there, rather than fingerprints,” he said.
In a nearby bedroom, drawers had been tipped out by the burglar – presumably hunting for jewellery or cash.
Jake used a magnetic powder to test for fingerprints on an envelope and a drawer, but both still had glove marks on them.
Unable to take any prints back to the station for analysis, we headed out into the back garden to try and work out how the intruder had got in.
The only way to reach the bathroom window would have been to climb onto the roof of the kitchen extension, but there was no damage to the drainpipes and we left the house still wondering how the burglar could have got up.
It was only a short drive to the second house, which was on a road that backed on to the first. This time, the burglar had managed to get in through the back door after reaching through the cat flap to turn the key.
Again, Jake’s efforts at dusting for prints proved unsuccessful, bringing up glove marks, but he offered the owners advice on fitting a sensor above the door to detect movement.
Unfortunately neither of our visits yielded any forensic evidence to identify the culprits – who Jake believes could be one and the same.
But it was an interesting insight into the work of those responsible for ensuring there is enough evidence to prosecute those who can be identified.