CSI Chelmsford: The only crime scene you can cross

PUBLISHED: 10:32 25 June 2013 | UPDATED: 16:58 25 June 2013

CSI Chelmsford team

CSI Chelmsford team


IF YOU have ever been fascinated by American TV’s spate of CSI detective shows, no doubt the notion of what science now brings to crime scene investigation is part of that lure. But did you know that right here in Essex you can try your hand at the real thing.

As a part of work performed by Chelmsford-based firm DABS Forensic Ltd, you can join the CSI 4 A Day programme which offers any member of the public, from schoolchildren to law specialists, the opportunity to become a crime scene investigator for the day and be taught by a team of experienced professionals with a combined experience of more than 100 years in the forensic field.

The company launched in February 2010 for adults and since 2011 the team has run CSI 4 A Day for schoolchildren. Since then there has been an influx of bookings from all kinds of groups and organisations and the company has also been featured on BBC Essex radio and has been live on ITVs Alan Titchmarsh Show.

CSI 4 A Day is run by senior homicide investigator Peter Whent, senior scene of crime investigator Ron Cook and finger print expert David Stubbs, all of whom are former detectives and have experience in managing thousands of crime scenes.

The innovative idea behind CSI 4 A Day came from Peter, the companys managing director. Over the past few years people have approached me and said they would really love to have a go at doing some CSI work, Peter explains. So we discussed the idea and agreed to build our own crime scene house for people to have the chance to live their fantasy for the day.

There are a variety of courses to choose from to suit training for all levels of age and skill and the team take on anywhere between one to 150 students per session. Throughout the day students are taken through a number of scenarios that include a crime scene assessment, evidence recovery, collecting forensic evidence, finger print recovery techniques, taking a set of fingerprints and presentation of evidence to identify a suspect.

The crime scene is currently a bedsit in a house constructed by Ron that is complete with furniture and other household objects. The crime scene may include blood stains, broken crockery, hidden fingerprints and other forensic clues. Prior to entering the room, the students are given a scenario and must employ their skills to find the forensic evidence and figure out who has committed the offence.

Peter continues: At CSI 4 A Day we wanted to give a little back and teach others about the forensic science that we have learnt through our own experiences. It is a great privilege to teach and inspire both young and mature minds about what we do and we have the facilities here to lecture on any topic related to police work or the criminal justice process.

As well as being educational, CSI 4 A Day is great fun with family or friends and is an excellent experience for students from school, colleges or universities. The course is an exciting way to teach leadership skills to children as well as management skills for businesses.

We teach and allow children to team build and give them the opportunity to use applied science, adds Peter. The children find it very rewarding and have written to us saying our training course was inspirational and they wanted to be involved in CSI in the future.

But young and old can enjoy the experience. Retired couple Brenda and Len Bishops recently went on the course. We found the instructors kept the experience as realistic as possible, while at the same time providing a helpful and friendly atmosphere, says Brenda. Len and I are in our 70s, but the experience is one that the whole family can enjoy and learn from.

Rachel Winter is a forensic casework administrator, so she had her own reasons for visiting CSI 4 A Day. I found the CSI 4 A Day course very enjoyable, Rachel says. Peter and the other two tutors were extremely professional and friendly throughout. Peter took the time to find out what it was that I wanted to get out of the course and tailored it to my needs. It is the ideal course for anyone looking for an insight into this field of work and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

And there are many plans for the future too, with the team at CSI 4 A Day aiming to perform some real crime scene investigation training for students, which will involve spending six weeks learning different aspects of forensic training. For some, this could be the first step on the road to making a real difference in the fight against crime.

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