20 May 2013

Focus on...Crime Scene Investigators - 'CSI Miami doesn't come close'

Phill Pemble | Crime Scene Investigator 

Joined Kent Police 2001 

‘CSI Miami doesn’t come close!’ 

Hi everyone, 

I’ve been a CSI at Kent Police for nearly 12 years now and I really enjoy my role. I think it’s fair to say that the public are fascinated by the work I do, mainly due to the numerous television programmes showing how glamorous it is all supposed to be. However, the reality is very different! 

So… if you would like a true insight into the job, let’s go. 

A week usually starts off with a few late shifts (2-11pm), followed by some day shifts (10am-7pm) and culminating with early turns (7am-4:30pm). We also provide out-of-hours cover for serious or major incidents. It is rare that I am tucked up in bed reminiscing about my day at 9pm as seen on TV!  

Our offices do not have muted lighting and steel worktops, it does not take 30 seconds to get a DNA result nor do we have a make-up artist on hand or walk around in lab coats. However, we do have police tape, pop-up tents and white paper suits and, on occasions, you will find us addressing colleagues by their surname, so I guess there are some similarities! 

Day to day we cover the area we’re based at (mine being Swale) and give assistance to each other when needed.  I attend crime scenes ranging from minor criminal damage, serious (and sometimes sexual) assaults, theft from vehicles and serious organised crime – whenever there are forensic opportunities, we’ll be there. 

When a call comes in to our Control Room they take all the details and tag CSIs if they believe there may be forensic opportunities for us at the scene. When I start a shift I look at the system that shows me exactly where I need to be and which incident I need to attend first.  I also have a work phone that I use to check for new jobs when I’m out of the office, so although my working day could start off fairly relaxed it can invariably end up far busier than first thought. 

Being a CSI is so interesting; no two days are ever the same. Interacting with victims and helping them through difficult situations is very rewarding. And of course the evidence I collect can be one of the main reasons a criminal is put behind bars - that is the icing on the cake.   

As with many roles within the police service there’s a constant learning curve as you encounter new situations. You need a calm, clear head, be able to empathise with victims, an ability to think laterally as situations may not be as straight forward as first thought as well as be able to communicate comfortably with everyone you come into contact with, from victims to coroners as well as senior investigating officers. 

Tomorrow I’ll let you know about of my most memorable jobs, including the infamous Tonbridge Robbery, as well as cases where our DNA and fingerprint evidence secured convictions for murderers and drug producers.   

I’m extremely proud of the work we do – seeing the relief on the faces of victims when justice is delivered and an offender is jailed always stays with me and is the motivation behind everything we do. 

Stay tuned for more…