The other Police section I was able to visit was the NSW Dog Section. Sgt. Lateisha Lomas, the Dog Unit
Detection Training Officer, gave me a tour of their facilities near Sydney. They have 3 dogs currently that
are trained to search for human remains, and hope to have more in the future. The AFTER facility will be
of tremendous help in this training, although the decomposition VOCs in the area are likely to be
overwhelming for the dogs. Training will be best for the dogs in colder weather when the VOCs will not be
Image of blood on a plant
Image of a scary
The dog section also has 2 dogs which can detect blood, and have a third currently in training. These dogs
have been used in the past to follow blood trails, and have even found blood at scenes after the area has
been cleaned or there has been a fire. They have been able to find blood after 6 months, and are
particularly useful in finding blood on difficult surfaces. I was given a demonstration with one of the blood
dogs, and she was able to find a small spot of blood on a plant (Image 11 above), as well as blood on
gravel which was difficult to see even when she pointed it out to us.
Sgt. Lomas is hoping to do several studies at the AFTER facility. One will be with buried remains to see if
the dogs can detect accurately. One of the UTS doctoral students is also hoping to do a study on whether
or not dogs can differentiate between blood from a live or a dead source.
Because the AFTER facility works so closely with the partner agencies in the PMC, they are able to foster a
lot of goodwill. Everyone I spoke to about the facility was very supportive, and eager to develop further
Conclusions & Recommendations
There is no doubting that setting up a human taphonomy facility in the UK will be a large undertaking.
There are a lot of factors that need to be considered during the planning stage as well as the operation of
the facility. From my Fellowship research I have the following recommendations:
The UK legislation, in particular the Human Tissue Act (HTA), will need to be looked at closely to see if
there are any changes that need to be made to allow a HTF to operate. The site will obviously have to be
licensed under the HTA and abide will all provisions of that act. Health and Safety legislation will also have
to be closely followed.
Garner Local Support
It is vitally important that the public is consulted and listened to on this issue. Dealing with human
remains is quite rightly an emotive issue for most people, but explaining what exactly is done in HTFs, as