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Thursday, 9 August, 2001, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
TV crime attracts course recruits
David Jason
David Jason's character in A Touch of Frost is one of an army of detectives on the box
Television programmes have stirred up enormous interest in the investigation of crime and have led to a surge of interest in a new course, lecturers have said.

Programmes such as A Touch of Frost, Cracker, Prime Suspect, and The Bill are creating a huge appetite for the courses, they say.

Demand has led to the creation of a new "crime scene science" degree course at Teesside University.

Julie Mennell
Viewing the evidence: Principal lecturer Julie Mennell
Julie Mennell, the principal lecturer in forensic investigation and crime scene science, said television programmes had stirred up great interest in the subject.

"There's been a proliferation of crime scene programmes. They're on every night," she said.

"Programmes such as A Touch of Frost, The Bill and Prime Suspect which look at the processes behind crime investigation have created a lot of interest."

The course aims to provide students with a path into police work.

People who investigate scenes of crimes are specially trained and can be either police officers or civilians employed by the police.

Julie Mennell - a former police officer - said the new course would help civilians to secure jobs in an area which was previously difficult to break into.

The course will also be taken part-time by serving police officers.

Robbie Coltrane
Robbie Coltrane's Cracker series also showed the work carried out at crime scenes
It has been developed in a partnership between Teesside University and the National Training Centre for Scientific Support to Crime Investigation, which is based in County Durham.

Until now, the National Training Centre has coached everyone working as scene of crime examiners.

Julie Mennell says many new recruits are drawn in by the blood and gore seen in TV programmes.

The course work involves foundation science, photography, finger-prints, biological identification of bodies, DNA testing and fire and accident investigation.

It also includes a section on communication skills, which Julie Mennell says is very important.

"It is a difficult job. Not only are you going to crime scenes - perhaps in someone's home or dealing with victims - but you are also have to present evidence in court and write statements."

School-leavers

The course is aimed at school-leavers who want to break into this field of work as well as serving police officers.

The organisers say people enrolling include some who are already working as scenes of crime officers who want to gain extra skills and qualifications.

Teesside University already has other courses on criminology and forensic science.

The new course was validated after the university's prospectus for 2001 went to press, but lecturers say half of the 60 places on the new course have been filled through word-of-mouth and by serving police officers.

See also:

11 Jul 00 | Education
Cracking crime at university
02 Aug 99 | UK
Studying to solve crime
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