x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Crime Scene Investigation: Ajman

A new crime-scene investigation lab training centre in Ajman is the second of its kind in the UAE. The village educates police and medical staff about the importance of preserving evidence.

Different scenarios that include murders, thefts, and assaults are arranged to train officers with three basic levels of crime scene skills.
Different scenarios that include murders, thefts, and assaults are arranged to train officers with three basic levels of crime scene skills.

AJMAN // In a bedroom just past the hallway of a two-floor villa in Al Karama, Ajman, bloodstains spatter the floor around the body of what appears to be a young man who has been stabbed to death.

Forensic science investigators humming around the villa have lifted fingerprints, scanned footprints and extracted blood samples. A woman's shoe found next to the body is being analysed in the hope of finding more clues.

The investigators, all wearing white 'hazmat' (short for hazardous material) suits, have taken photographs too. They are taking care to preserve the evidence, including that found on the body itself, such as skin particles found beneath the man's fingernails that may have become lodged there during a tussle with his attacker.

But no charges will ever be filed: the scenario is part of a three-month training programme at the newly-opened Crime Scene Village in Ajman. The centre, the second of its kind in the UAE, offers training from British and American experts to trainees from Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Umm al Qaiwain and Ras al Khaimah.

"We are creating future experts who themselves will train forensic investigators," said Lt Col Salim Khalifa al Der'i, the director of the crime scene department at Abu Dhabi Police and head of Crime Scene Village in Ajman.

The village consists of two villas, two equipment storage facilities and accommodation for trainees. It was launched in December on the direction of Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior.

The village educates police and medical staff about the importance of preserving evidence.

"Police personnel have always lost or destroyed forensic evidence when they enter a crime scene due to lack of training and experience," Lt Col al Der'i said.

Different scenarios and crime scene puzzles, including murders, thefts, and assaults, are arranged at the villas to train officers in three basic areas of crime scene skills: taking fingerprints and footprints, photography and preserving evidence.

The village, opened six years after the launch of Abu Dhabi's crime scene department, features state-of-the-art equipment and skilled international experts. The Abu Dhabi and the Ajman departments are the most advanced facilities of their type in the Middle East, according to officials.

Some of the equipment was purchased from Britain's Scotland Yard, while other technology was brought in from the US and Canada, Lt Col Al Der'i said. The latest devices include 360-degree cameras and laser equipment to scan footprints, which can be difficult to see with the naked eye.

For lectures, the village has an auditorium and an instant translator who interprets the lecturer's words as he or she speaks.

Twenty-six officers have graduated from the programme so far and are temporarily working with Abu Dhabi Police to gain experience in the field.

Fourteen trainees are currently in the programme and 14 more will start in July, Lt Col al Der'i said. All applicants must pass a rigorous set of exams before joining.

In Abu Dhabi, police are considering introducing a two-year degree in crime-scene investigation. The first year would consist of a three-month course and nine months of practical experience, after which a panel would decide whether the trainee should progress to the second year or not.

In the second year, the trainee would take two courses, each a month long, followed by nine months of practical experience. The degree would then be granted by a British collage.

salamir@thenational.ae