Hugh Owen's Story
Hugh Owen travelled to the USA in 1996 to study the scientific examination of crime scenes, suspects and victims.
At the time of his Fellowship, Hugh worked as a supervisor in the Scenes of Crime Department of the Cheshire Constabulary. The growing sophistication of organised crime in the UK meant that demands on the police’s ability to examine and recover evidence were increasing. The Fellowship represented an opportunity for Hugh to acquire maximum knowledge and experience from colleagues in the USA.
Hugh visited forensic scientists at police departments across the USA, as well as the United States Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Hugh was particularly impressed by the Federal Evidence Response Teams he witnessed in action. They proved most valuable when large crime scenes were encountered, or when there were multiple scenes in a given case. This aspect of crime scene investigation was later adopted by British Police Forces with the introduction of the Crime Scene Manager and Coordinator roles within Crime Scene Investigation departments.
What most struck Hugh, however, was how the volume of serious crimes and budgetary constraints combined to restrict the amount of time that could be devoted to a particular crime. Often only superficial enquiries were made and there was a tendency to adopt a gung-ho attitude, summed up by a detective examining a murder scene and exclaiming “Homicide, suicide, you decide!”
Hugh gained considerable practical and theoretical experience in crime scene management and examination from his Fellowship. He was grateful for the opportunity to meet, listen to and enjoy discussions with acclaimed experts in many areas of law enforcement and ancillary services.
Following his Fellowship he shared his findings with colleagues and senior police officers, speaking at conferences, delivering training and managing other crime scene investigators.
Hugh credits his Fellowship with shaping his career. He spent the next two decades within the Cheshire Constabulary Scientific Support Unit undertaking a variety of roles. For the last seven years of his service he was Head of Forensic Investigations in a department of ninety staff, covering the full range of forensic disciplines.