Effective Crime Scene Management in Relation to Scenes Involving Explosives

Crime scene examination requires personal protective equipment to be worn in order not to contaminate the scene and evidence. See below for more photos.

Crime scene examination requires personal protective equipment to be worn in order not to contaminate the scene and evidence. See below for more photos.

The aim of any criminal investigation is to gather evidence that can be presented to a judicial authority.

To that end, governments and security agencies worldwide invest substantial amounts of resources into enhancing the processes that allow the successful identification, securing and analysis of evidence that can be used in a court prosecution.

The UK government is no exception and, through the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, has funded the Policing Support Team to enhance the capability and capacity of Jordan’s Public Security Directorate (PSD) to effectively investigate serious crime, including terrorist offenses. A particular focus of our support in this area falls on crime scene management and the investigation of scenes involving explosives.

In partnership with the PSD’s Explosive Handling Unit, we recently designed and carried out a practical exercise involving a live explosion and subsequent crime scene examination. Over the course of the exercise, experts from the Explosives Handling Unit (EHU) and Forensic Laboratory Department (FLD) were tasked to enter the mock crime scene and collect debris from the explosion, and samples from the surrounding area that may contain traces of explosives. The following day the team analysed the samples at the PSD’s forensic laboratories in order to identify the type of explosive that was used. The lab personnel also reconstructed the explosive device.  

These procedures offer investigators an insight into establishing the source of any bomb, the identity of its makers and the terrorist grouping responsible. In tandem, the PSD has access to domestic and international databases that enable the exchange of biometric data and document records. This exchange of information helps the scientists working in the EHU and FLD to identify the ‘forensic signature’ and technical data of the explosive device. They will also check if the identified suspect or methodology has been linked to any previous incidents and if the device contains new technology. Once they have run these checks, they will update the relevant databases accordingly.

During the practical exercise, Kim Simpson — who formerly worked at the UK government’s Forensic Explosives Laboratory as an operational forensic scientist — was able to share her considerable experience of investigating incidents both in the UK and globally. She offered insights on how best to identify and secure a crime scene, identify and secure exhibits, analyse the exhibits and prepare evidential reports which could be presented in court prosecutions of individuals who are accused of committing terrorist-type offenses.