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Last Updated: Friday, 12 January 2007, 00:19 GMT
Unit trains to handle mass deaths
London bombing
Skills will help deal with events like the London bombings
A team of forensic officers from across the UK is to be trained to identify victims of mass fatalities.

The Disaster Victim Identification officers will be deployed to disasters or terror attacks following the death of British nationals.

The contract has been awarded to researchers led by Professor Sue Black from the University of Dundee.

Prof Black has victim identification experience working in Kosovo, Iraq, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

The professor's team at Dundee's Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology Department will provide training for the DVI response unit, a joint initiative between the Home Office and the Foreign Office.

We will have a temporary mortuary for hands-on training in every aspect
Prof Sue Black
University of Dundee

She said: "We hope to put the first officers through the trial from Easter and have the first graduates by autumn.

"We will have officers from the most southerly to the most northerly forces training on the same material at the same level without having to leave their force area, it will be interactive and innovative to expand their knowledge and experience."

After body recovery training from the Centre for Policing Excellence (Centrex) officers will travel to Dundee for practical mortuary work.

Sue Black
Professor Sue Black has extensive forensic experience

"We will have a temporary mortuary for hands-on training in every aspect, so you will have fingerprint officers experiencing mortuary techniques, so that we can build up a cohesion between the team," Prof Black added.

The experience gained in human identification will be used in incidents such as the Asian Tsunami, the London bombings and the Sharm-el-Sheikh bombing.

Every police force in the UK will provide officers to take part in the course.

We know it is a case of when, not if, UK Police will be called on to recover and identify the victims of a mass fatality incident
Graham Walker
UK DVI Commander

Graham Walker, UK DVI Commander, said: "We know it is a case of when, not if, UK Police will be called on to recover and identify the victims of a mass fatality incident.

"The series of tragic events since the millennium, together with scientific advances means it is time to take training to an unprecedented level."

He said officers would be able to give speedy and accurate information to families as well as being prepared for operations in hostile circumstances.

Mr Walker added: "How we would deploy them will depend on the specific incident, we will have 500 officers trained and ready to deploy, and, for example, we had 1,000 officers in total sent out to Thailand after the tsunami.

"Rather than learning on the job, we will be able to prepare officers for the next one."

The training will lead to recognised academic awards of either Post-graduate Certificates or Diplomas in Disaster Victim Identification.


SEE ALSO
'No reply' to tsunami help offer
17 Jan 05 |  Scotland
'Unknown victim' degree launched
09 Feb 04 |  Education

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