Working in real world situations is different. The pressure is different. The situations are unpredictable.
The work is taxing in a way that the environment in University will never be able to recreate and as
previously stated, you really do not know whether or not evidence will be present.
A key idea was never knowing what you are going to expect, and it puts you on your feet from the second
you arrive. At University there is a safety net; if you mess up your grade may drop but there are no other
consequences. On a scene knowing that if you do not lift a fingerprint properly or you forget to complete
part of a CJA label to evidence is gone. There is no going back and the consequences from that one
mistake can lead to miscarriages of justice. The importance of taking a step back and considering every
option was vital and being aware when you are falling into the traps of confirmation biases. I am normally
one for diving head first into a task but, I have noticed myself applying the thought processes to my own
work; have I considered every possible method? Is there a better way to phrase this sentence? Is there an
alternative explanation to this result? The benefit of self-reflection should never be underestimated. It
gave me the chance to notice what skills I thought I was lacking, though it turned out I remember a lot
more than I initially thought.
The skills I have developed through my work with the LFSA are transferable and impact this has had on my
work in a short time frame has been clear. I think the stand out transferable skill for me is confidence.
After my time at the LFSA I have presented at an international conference, helped teach in undergraduate
labs and provided a set of workshops for primary school students about Forensic Science. These are all
things that if a year ago you told me I was going to do I would never believe you.
My experiences highlight that practice and experience are key. I lifted more mock fingerprints and made
more tool-mark casts than I ever expected and if I now had to go to a scene and collect these evidence
types I would have no hesitation as I have experienced ‘real world’ applications of Forensic Science that
few university students have. These idea captures the ideology of the LFSA: combining best practice and
experience in academia with that in operational forensic investigation. The services they provide will only
improve, especially with the opening of the LFSA’s own laboratories at Lancashire Constabulary at the end
of February and much more to come.
As for me, I am not sure which career route I will take. However, I think the academic route is probably
more for me. It plays to my strengths, and I’ve found a real passion for research and teaching through my
time at University. I am still keeping my options open especially when my understanding is that jobs in
Forensic Science can be quite difficult to obtain, which for some one new to the discipline is quite
intimidating. However, my time with the LFSA has reinforced that as long as I have the correct attitude
and continue to push myself, no goal is out of reach.
My current goal is to finish my Masters by Research, at UCLan, which is investigating the standardisation
and validation of sharp force trauma in bone. My time with the LFSA has given me plenty of ideas to apply
to my research to break the boundary between forensic research and operational application. Whilst
completing this degree I’m also in the midst of endeavouring to get my undergraduate dissertation, also
sharp force trauma based, published in a scientific journal as, at this time, I believe it is the best way for
me to make an impact in Forensic Science. The end goal at this point is a PhD, it has been the light at the
end of the tunnel for as long as I can remember, but I have always been daunted by the thought.
However, with the support of the LFSA and the skills I have developed through my placements, I know this
goal is obtainable.
First published in CSEye February 2019