Forensics boss honoured for riots crime scene response
8 September 2012
A FORENSICS boss at West Midlands Police has picked up a national award for managing more than 160 crime scenes during last year’s riots – and helping to put almost 50 yobs behind bars.
Stephen Harborne orchestrated the force’s forensics response following each night of disorder and helped secure vital evidence which enabled detectives to hunt down the looters.
Under his leadership the Forensic Services Unit (FSU) – featuring specialists in fingerprint technology, ballistics, footwear tread analysis and crime scene investigation – preserved multiple sites and conducted fingertip searches.
They uncovered forensics clues such as blood, fingerprints, footwear marks, clothing and other evidence which, after being sent off for fast track analysis, led directly to 49 offenders being charged with violent conduct and burglary.
And his efforts have now been recognized with a Crime Scene Practitioner prize at the Forensics Awards run by the National Police Improvement Agency.
A citation delivered at Friday’s event (August 31) – where Steve was presented with the accolade by Durham Police Chief Constable John Stoddart – read: “The award recognises the forensic response to the riots managed by Steve and the dedication, commitment and professionalism his team demonstrated under pressure.
“He ensured a quick response to identified crime scenes, action which preserved evidence, and led to the timely arrest of many suspects.”
Steve oversaw the production of 131 DNA and fingerprint packages during the disturbances which returned many ‘hits’ on suspects known to police.
By using remote fingerprint scanners Forensic Scene Investigators were able to rapidly submit prints…with some suspects being identified within just a few hours.
And fast-track forensics analysis of DNA samples, together with speedy arrests and emergency court sittings held to deal with rioters, meant offenders were swiftly brought to justice.
Stephen added: “I’m humbled by the award but it was very much a team effort involving local officers, detectives and the FSU…each played a key role, showing great resilience, giving up rest days and working extended hours to ensure early attendance at crime scenes and rapid processing of evidence.
“But we shouldn't forget members of the public who were very supportive – with a special note to shop owners for their patience and understanding in keeping shops closed while important forensic examinations took place.”