Visiting New Zealand and Australia to investigate burglary:
A CSI’s perspective thanks to the
Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.
I am a CSI Supervisor working for Avon and Somerset Police and after breaking my arm and a period of
light duties I started to look at how I could improve volume crime performance in Bristol.
Burglary investigation forms part of every Crime Scene Investigator’s (CSI) daily workload in the UK. It is a
crime that affects thankfully only a few. In recent years burglary has become a national priority and
forms part of the Avon and Somerset Constabulary and the Police and Crime Commissioners primary
objective, helping the members of our communities to feel safe in their home. It sits under the umbrella
of Volume Crime which also includes vehicle crime or any crime that by its sheer volume has a significant
impact on the community and the ability of the local police to deal with it.
Over the past ten years volume crime levels have reduced significantly allowing CSI’s the ability to spend
more time at the scene. This has seen improvements in standards of evidence recovery and recording. It
is my wish to push the boundaries of the CSI ‘examination’ to ‘investigation’ of the crime scene. This
would entail using skills and knowledge gained from training and experience as well as making a
professional judgement as to whether there is forensic opportunity at the crime scene.
Each CSI in central Bristol attends on average 130 burglary dwelling crime scenes per year (based on 2013
– 2014 figures). As a result they are experienced in the field of volume crime investigation, enabling them
to quickly identify the methods used by offenders to gain access to premises, the reason the property was
targeted, identify trends or crime series’ and to provide an opinion as to what has happened based on
their findings. This is a mind-set that is key to Avon and Somerset’s CSI department, led by Forensic
Operations Manager Mike Webb, and a vision I have adopted during my seven years under his command.
I have established this operationally by creating a Burglary model with my team in Bristol, this pulls
together their experiences in burglary investigation and saw the implementation of a tri-department
investigation model, working closely with the Intelligence Department and burglary investigators. By the
end of the crime year (April 1st 2013 to March 31st 2014) performance had increased by 50%.
As a result of these successes, I was keen to develop the model further and began researching other
burglary models, conducting general research around burglary investigation, and looking for other
successes in other Police forces in the UK.
I continued to research the available material around burglary investigation, national documents, burglary
and performance improvement plans and specifically those in relation to CSI’s. I was unable to find any
published burglary models relating to CSI or papers specific to CSI and burglary investigation, or indeed
CSI’s being recognised as an untapped intelligence resource and investigative arm of law enforcement.