Greg is a Junior Forensic Scientist at Thames Valley Police

Greg Satchell from Swindon in Wiltshire graduated from the BSc (Hons) Forensic Science in 2012. He is now a Junior Forensic Scientist at Thames Valley Police, based in the Fingerprint Development Laboratory.

Describe what you do
For the main part of my role, I take exhibits seized from various crime scenes and assess them against a variety of factors (case history, crime type, exhibit type, priority/seriousness). I then carry out various chemical treatments to develop any finger-mark detail/impressions found. The results are photographed and passed to the Fingerprint Experts who do the identification.

The other side of my job is attending major crime scenes (murders, suspicious suicides, foul play, arsons etc) as a Forensic Investigator. I carry out chemical treatments on various areas at a crime scene, again to try and collect finger-mark detail, and seize items if necessary. 

What do you enjoy about it?
Primarily, being able to go to work and not always knowing fully what you will be investigating/treating, and that every day will in some way be different from the last. 

What have been the highlights so far?
On one shift, I had an urgent murder case come in, and was required to treat various items as quickly and thoroughly as possible whilst the suspects were in custody. It was difficult to coordinate and arrange fingerprint experts to be around but the work I carried out provided three identifications, two of which were of the suspects, and this was the main evidence for the court case. 

How has the Forensic Science degree helped you in your career?  
Thanks to the degree, I have been able to become a member of three professional bodies - the Royal Society of Chemistry, Royal Society of Biology and the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences. These memberships tell my employer about my professional knowledge and experience, and show a standard of professional development which employers look for, particularly in the Science sector.

Alongside Forensics, I am a Special Sergeant in Wiltshire Police. I have been able to use Forensic skills gained from my degree in many scenarios as an operational police officer - and I am also called upon at times by regular officers to assist at certain scenes/crimes where forensic evidence is vital.

What were the most valuable aspects of the course? 

  • The in-depth course content and specific modules such as Toxicology, DNA Profiling, Advanced Analytical Chemistry
  • Eligibility to apply for memberships of professional bodies
  • The excellent facilities, which give you as realistic preparation as possible for when you take up a forensic role 

Did you do any placements or internships? 
I did a one-week placement in a Mortuary in Swindon which I arranged myself. The mortuary manager was an ex-CSI in Manchester, so having that mutual interest, I was able to assist and carry out the post-mortems with the hospital pathologist. Unusually, there were a few major cases within a short space of time, so I was able to see a wide range of injuries and procedures. In the final year of the degree, we had a case studies module which included post mortem techniques and procedures, so I was able to use the knowledge and experience gained in the placement to assist me in my finals.