BU Forensics students put skills to the test at Streetwise


Forensics students from Bournemouth University have been putting their skills and knowledge to the test at Bournemouth’s Streetwise facility.

Second year students from the Forensic Investigation and Forensic Science degree courses have been working on simulated crime scenes at the facility, which features a range of realistic settings including a street, house and railway line.

The crime scenes featured three connected scenarios – a bomb-making factory in a barn; a body, fake money and identity cards found in a house linked with a terrorist organization; and a bomb detonator in a park – and a burnt body found on railway lines.

“We give them a very basic briefing and then they have to come back once they have collected evidence,” said Alex Otto, Demonstrator in Forensic Science at BU, who helped set up the simulated crime scenes.

“It’s basically taking two years of what they have learnt in practicals and lectures and pulling it all together to help them develop the skills to actually be able to go out and do it.”

Over 70 forensics students spent a day examining the crime scenes at the Streetwise facility, in Wallisdown, over the course of a week.

They will be assessed on their ability to find, analyse and catalogue the evidence found at the scenes, as well as the supporting documents they submit.

“They have to write a witness statement and they submit their forensic documents,” said Alex.

“It is all about that interaction, putting together two years of learning and testing themselves.

“It is not just about crime scene investigation, but also putting into practice their observational skills, documenting skills and team work.”

She added: “They are working with people from other courses and disciplines, so if they are not quite sure about something, they can put their heads together and try to work it out between them.

“We expect them to make mistakes but they have been absolutely brilliant. They have been using their heads and working together.”

Forensics students have been using the Streetwise facility, which is sponsored by London Victoria, for the past seven years, and the scenarios are changed each year to ensure they remain current and relevant.

Last year’s crime scenes, for example, focused around a bomb plot at the London 2012 Olympics.

Students from the Forensic Computing course in the School of Design, Engineering and Computing also benefit – collecting evidence from computers in the crime scenes and taking it back to the university to analyse.

“It gives them an idea of how it works and what a crime scene is like,” explained Alex.

“We are very lucky as a university to have this facility so close by, alongside our crime house and outside training facility where forensic students train before they come here.”

Second year Forensic Investigation student Julie Dipple was acting as crime scene manager for the scenario based in the park setting.

She said: “It’s great. It’s been brilliant and really helpful, training us and getting us into the mindset that we need to be doing this in real life.”

Alex Curwen-Reed, a second year Forensic Science student who was acting as a general crime scene investigator, agreed.

“I’m really, really enjoying it and it’s been a lot of fun,” she said.

“It’s nice to get to meet new people from different courses and learn from them. Everyone knows something a little bit different.

“But it’s also good to be somewhere different– it is completely fresh and you’ve got to really apply everything we’ve learnt.”