Emergency service & investigative students put crime scene skills to the test

Fri 11 November, 2022
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Budding forensic scientists, police officers and paramedics have practised their new-found skills by taking part in a mock crime scene event, hosted in the grounds of the University of Bedfordshire’s historic Putteridge Bury campus.

Both undergraduate and postgraduate students studying a variety of courses, including Forensic Science, Paramedic Science, Professional Policing, and Criminology, suited up to investigate a fictional drugs-related homicide scene.

This night-time crime scene held outside at Putteridge Bury is an annual event hosted by the School of Life Sciences in collaboration with other University faculties, including the School of Applied Social Sciences. It aims to provide students with an opportunity to learn what it is like to work with other agencies to support victims, find and analyse evidence and help to solve a crime – all while working within unpredictable weather environments and the restrictions of darkness.

Dr Slava Klibanecz, Lecturer in Forensic Science, explained the importance of this activity: “This type of hands-on activity gives our students the opportunity to participate in an event which mimics the reality of crime scenes – scenes which aren’t pretty and which often happen in windy, uncomfortable, rainy and cold locations. This is a great way of exposing our students to that sort of environment and we are always very grateful to the staff at Putteridge Bury for facilitating us to use their grounds.”

Each year, the ‘crime scene’ is developed to replicate real-life conditions that students could face in their future careers as Crime Scene Investigators or first-responders and emergency service workers, such as police or paramedics. This year’s scenario involved a fictional drugs-related incident, featuring illegal substance dealing and abuse, attempted strangulation and a ‘murder’.

Brandon Yates, a Professional Policing student who hopes to begin a career in the police force after graduating, spoke about why this event was so useful to his studies: “Last year I took part in a similar crime scene scenario and it was really vital in helping me to understand the difference between theory and practice. Coming to an event like this allows you to put everything you’ve learnt into practice and get a good idea of what it feels like in the ‘real’ world.”

Forensic Science student, Paige Miah, added: “This activity will be so helpful towards my studies and my future because the skills are really transferrable, such as the overall experience and the communication techniques involved. There’s so many different roles involved so we get a real feel of what an actual crime scene is like.”

This year, Journalism students from the School of Arts & Creative Industries also joined the activity. They were tasked with writing up a news report directly from the crime scene, gathering information as the case developed and speaking to ‘witnesses’ for quotes.

Amia, a first-year Journalism student, said: “I’d love to go into investigative journalism, going behind-the-scenes and reporting on crimes, so this will really help me get a feel for what that is going to be like and enhance my general journalism skills.”

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