Who Cleans Crime Scenes In The UK?

November 3, 2023by Jamie Browning0

Every time we watch a crime drama or hear about an unfortunate event on the news, our focus naturally gravitates towards the victims, the perpetrators, and the investigation process. Yet, there’s an aftermath rarely discussed but absolutely vital: the cleanup.

Who takes on the responsibility of restoring these crime scenes once the investigators have departed? Who ensures that spaces tainted with trauma are returned to their previous state, free from potential hazards?

Crime scene cleaning is not merely about tidying up; it’s a sensitive operation that demands a balance of technical skills, emotional resilience, and utmost professionalism.

Read on to understand the intricacies of crime scene cleaning in the UK.

The Aftermath of a Crime Scene

After the police have wrapped up at a crime scene, they often leave behind more than just evidence markers. Bloodstains, shattered glass, and disturbed items might be scattered around, creating both a visual and health concern.

The sight can be overwhelming for loved ones, as a once familiar space is transformed into a haunting reminder of the incident.

For their emotional well-being and to ensure the location is safe, swift and thorough cleaning becomes crucial. This step towards restoration is essential for those who need to reclaim and heal in these spaces.

Two badly damaged cars that have been involved in a road traffic collision

The Difference Between Forensic Teams and Crime Scene Cleaners

Forensic teams operate on the front lines of crime scenes. Their primary role revolves around meticulously collecting and preserving evidence, which could be anything from fingerprints to strands of hair.

The precise work of forensic experts ensures that the criminal justice system can function, leading to successful prosecutions based on solid evidence.

However, once their job is done, the responsibility of removing the waste and sanitising the area doesn’t fall upon them. So, who cleans up crime scenes? This is where crime scene cleaners come into play.

Unlike forensic teams, crime scene cleaners’ main duty is to restore the scene to a safe and habitable condition. They deal with the removal of biohazardous materials, disinfecting affected areas, and ensuring no trace of the crime remains.

A crime scene cleaner wearing full PPE inspects an item

Key Qualities of a Crime Scene Cleaner

Cleaning a crime scene is not just another day at the office. It demands a unique set of attributes and a rigorous training regiment.

  • Emotional Strength: Crime scene cleaners often find themselves amidst remnants of tragic and sometimes violent events. The ability to stay composed, focused, and empathetic is crucial. They may need to interact with grieving families, making compassion an essential trait.
  • Physical Resilience: The job is physically demanding. Cleaners may need to wear protective gear for extended periods, handle heavy equipment, and often work under challenging conditions.
  • Professionalism: Discretion is vital. Crime scene cleaners must carry out their duties with the utmost respect for the affected families and properties. They work behind the scenes, making sure their presence is as unobtrusive as possible, and always maintain confidentiality.
  • Training and Certifications: While qualities like emotional strength come from within, technical skills are honed through rigorous training.
Students standing next to a simulated crime scene learning how to safely decontaminate it

CDP-accredited courses, such as those offered by Ultima Environmental, ensure that crime scene cleaners are well-versed in best practices.

These programs cover a range of topics, from handling biohazardous materials to adhering to safety protocols, guaranteeing a thorough and professional cleanup every time.

What is the Process of Crime Scene Cleaning?

Cleaning up crime scenes involves meticulous processes that require attention to detail, safety protocols, and a deep understanding of decontamination methods. Let’s delve into the step-by-step approach taken by professionals in this field.

Initial Assessment

Before diving in, a thorough inspection of the crime scene is conducted. This assessment helps determine the extent of contamination and the kind of equipment and methods required for cleanup. Each scene has its unique challenges, and this stage helps plan the cleanup process effectively.

Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Safety is paramount. Crime scene cleaners always equip themselves with PPE, such as gloves, masks, and protective suits. This ensures their safety against biohazardous materials and potential infections.

Cleanup Methods

  • Decontamination: Any biohazardous materials, such as bodily fluids or tissue, are treated and removed from the site, ensuring they pose no further risk.
  • Biohazard Disposal: Collected biohazards are disposed of in strict accordance with regulations, using specially designated containers.
  • Thorough Cleaning: Beyond visible contaminants, crime scenes might harbour invisible threats, like bacteria or viruses. Hence, a comprehensive cleaning, using specialised agents, ensures the site is thoroughly sanitised.

Restoration of the Site

The final step is returning the space to its original state or as close to it as possible. This might involve repairs, repainting, or other restoration tasks.

Crime Scene Cleaning vs. Other Biohazard Cleanups

While all biohazard cleanups require a meticulous approach, there are distinct nuances that differentiate crime scene cleaning from other types.

In the context of crime scenes, the contamination is often a result of violent incidents, leading to unique challenges both in terms of the type and extent of biohazards present and the emotional toll they take.

The cleanup process might involve dealing with blood, tissue, fingerprint dust, tear gas residues, or chemical compounds used in investigations.

On the other hand, cleaning after infectious disease outbreaks, for instance, is primarily centred on eradicating pathogens and preventing their spread. The focus here is less on trauma and more on containment and disinfection.

Similarly, cleanups following natural deaths may not have the investigative elements present in crime scenes. Still, they do present their own set of challenges, often related to decomposition and the potential spread of diseases.

While the foundational principles of biohazard cleaning remain consistent, the specific methods, tools, and emotional aspects can vary considerably based on the context.

While the foundational principles of biohazard cleaning remain consistent, the specific methods, tools, and emotional aspects can vary considerably based on the context.

What are the Challenges in Crime Scene Cleaning?

Tackling a crime scene cleanup is not for the faint-hearted. The job extends beyond just cleaning; it’s about dealing with the aftermath of often traumatic events, all while ensuring safety and precision.

Here are some of the significant challenges faced by crime scene cleaners:

  • Potential Health Risks: Crime scenes often contain biohazardous materials, ranging from blood and bodily fluids to other potentially infectious substances. These materials pose a serious risk of transmitting diseases if not handled with utmost caution.

    Professionals have to be constantly alert to avoid direct exposure and ensure that no contaminants are left behind.

  • Emotional and Psychological Challenges: Beyond the physical demands, the emotional toll of crime scene cleaning can be overwhelming. Cleaners often encounter scenes of violence, loss, or tragedy.

    Dealing with these settings requires immense emotional strength and the ability to detach oneself from the situation. Yet, it’s almost inevitable that, over time, some scenes will leave a lasting impact.

  • Importance of Post-Traumatic Stress Management: Due to the nature of their work, crime scene cleaners can experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Recognising this, many firms offer support systems, counselling, or stress management techniques. Professionals in this field must be aware of their mental health and seek assistance when needed.

A man with his head in his hands feeling traumatised

The Legal Landscape: Regulations and Compliance

Crime scene cleaning falls under the broader category of biohazard cleaning, which is tightly regulated in the UK.

Cleaners must comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations, which ensure that any hazardous substances are identified and risks are adequately controlled.

Additionally, the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) stipulates the correct disposal methods for hazardous waste, including biohazardous materials found at crime scenes.

Conclusion: The Importance of Hiring Expert Cleaners

The aftermath of a crime is often tumultuous and distressing. However, once the investigators have done their part, the silent yet crucial task begins – returning the scene to a state of normalcy.

Hiring professional crime scene cleaners is not just about cleanliness; it’s about ensuring that the location is safe and free of biohazards and that the emotional echoes of the incident are treated with respect and sensitivity.

Professionals bring a depth of expertise, training, and tools to handle these challenging scenarios effectively and safely.

They not only restore the physical space but play a key role in the broader healing process by allowing spaces to be inhabited again without the looming reminders of the past.

For expert crime scene cleaning services, trust in the expertise of Ultima Environmental. Get in touch to find out more.

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