Real Life CSI: Abi Carter

Real Life CSI: Abi Carter

We got on the case and talked to forensic expert Abi Carter.

The folks at Planet Science love a bit of crime solving drama on a Sunday night. We enjoy it so much that we got on the case to find a real life crime scene investigator. Planet Science managed to get an interview with Abi Carter.

Abi is the director of a forensic company based in Cardiff, Wales. They have provided crucial evidence in many well known cases, some that you may have heard about on the news!

Planet Science: Hello Abi! How are you? Tell us a bit about your job and how you got into forensics.

Abi Carter: I am a forensic Archaeologist; I am the person who digs up bodies that have been buried after they have been murdered. This can be one grave or perhaps a large grave with more than one person in it. In the UK, thankfully, we do not have many buried bodies to discover so I decided I needed to have another job in forensics that would keep me working every day. I decided to set up my own business in 2008 called Forensic Resources.

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The folks at Planet Science love a bit of crime solving drama on a Sunday night. We enjoy it so much that we got on the case to find a real life crime scene investigator. Planet Science managed to get an interview with Abi Carter.

Abi is the director of a forensic company based in Cardiff, Wales. They have provided crucial evidence in many well known cases, some that you may have heard about on the news!

Planet Science: Hello Abi! How are you? Tell us a bit about your job and how you got into forensics.

Abi Carter: I am a forensic Archaeologist; I am the person who digs up bodies that have been buried after they have been murdered. This can be one grave or perhaps a large grave with more than one person in it. In the UK, thankfully, we do not have many buried bodies to discover so I decided I needed to have another job in forensics that would keep me working every day. I decided to set up my own business in 2008 called Forensic Resources.

PS: What does your company do?

AC: It's a forensic science consultancy firm. We work with solicitors every day who defend people. When a crime is committed, the prosecution analyse a crime scene, they are the people wearing the white suits. The evidence that they collect is then sent to a laboratory where different people will analyse it and produce a few reports.

The solicitors who are helping the defendant will then have to have these reports re-analysed because they are not in favour of their client. This is where Forensic Resources comes in. Our expert scientists will review the reports and if necessary they will re-analyse the evidence and write their own report. Both sides, prosecution and defence, have a report each. Everyone then goes to court and our experts explain their evidence to the jury.

PS: Wow, sounds like a lot of work, do you do it all yourself or do you have a big team of different scientists?

AC: I work with lots of scientists who are all experts in different things such as DNA, fibres, fingerprints etc.

PS: From looking at your website, we saw that you guys analyze a lot of different things. Is there one that you find particularly clever? How does it work?

AC: I find handwriting and audio analysis very interesting indeed. Handwriting analysis is looking at people's signatures and handwriting to see if they have been forged by someone trying to copy them on a contract for instance. It is very intricate microscopic analysis and our expert also looks at forged documents to see if someone has made a fake registration for things like an MOT certificate for a car. The audio analysis is very interesting because it can look at lots of different things. Our expert can enhance phone call recordings or he can enhance the video from CCTV footage perhaps. He can analyse anything that involves video or audio, which covers a lot of information.

PS: Have you worked on any cases that we may have heard of?

AC: We recently worked on the Raoul Moat case. Our audio expert and our ballistics expert (gun expert) worked on the noises that the guns made. Mr Moat was holding a shot gun, which he shot himself with, and the police had taser shot guns. Our experts were able to tell how many shots were fired and in what order.

PS: Is working on such big cases as exciting as it is on TV shows such as CSI, Waking the Dead and Bones?

AC: Every case is exciting for me because you don't know what will come in and each one is so different. However, it is far from Hollywood and is nothing like the TV programmes.

PS: How similar would you say the forensic work that is portrayed on TV is to the real life stuff that you do?

AC: On the TV all the analysis happens in a few minutes and the answers are always exact. This is not the case in the real world. Some analysis can take weeks and sometimes it is not a 'yes or no' answer - it has to be interpreted, which is where the expert skills of our scientists come in. TV shows also portray one expert who has many different skills. This is not the case for experts in the UK because they have to be so highly skilled to work for the courts that they can only be an expert in one profession.

PS: What advice do you have for any budding forensic scientists out there?

 

AC: Go to university or college and study a science course and then if you want to take it further you can apply that science to forensics by doing a Masters Degree. I did Archaeology at Cardiff University and then Forensic Archaeology at Bournemouth University. If you only study a forensic science degree then it is harder to specialise later on. This way you can specialise and then get into forensics, which is a more secure route to a job, in my view anyway.

PS: Thanks Abi! And good luck with cracking all those cases!

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