“I try to treat each case with the same level of importance. That’s the most important thing to do for those individuals involved: for the victim, for the families and for the suspect.”
He’s already been involved in forensics for more than 30 years but Andrew Palmer still enjoys the variety and relevance of his work.
It all began when he followed up on his schoolboy interest in science, and joined the Forensic Science Service as an apprentice at the age of 18.
He’s now gone on to become a highly-experienced forensic scientist who’s dealt with thousands of cases – including hundreds since joining West Midlands Police around a decade ago.
Andrew’s primary role is looking for the fine forensic details which could provide vital evidence in establishing the circumstances behind a case.
It could be blood spatter or tiny amounts of DNA on an object or clothing which can prove, or also disprove, events and someone’s involvement.
Andrew said: “You come into the office in the morning and often you don’t know what you’re going to be presented with.
“You could be working on anything from a burglary, robbery all the way up to assaults or possibly a multiple homicide.
“Even after more than three decades I still find my job interesting and meaningful. To do this role you certainly need patience and an attention to detail as I can be working on a case for days, weeks or even months.”
The expertise of Andrew and his forensic colleagues – who can face harrowing scenes – is being featured in new episodes of Forensics: The Real CSI which has returned to BBC Two this month.
“It is one of those jobs that’s always a challenge. You have to keep on top of your game and keep up with the science. You can’t become complacent with it.
“At any particular time I might be dealing with two or three assaults, two or three violence offences and maybe a couple of murders as well, all at the same time.
“It’s not like it is on TV where you see all these programmes and they’ve got one job.
“Very often you’re dealing with a murder, then in two or three days another might occur and you’ll have to juggle both at the same time.
“You have to keep on top of all those cases and ensure that for all the jobs you’re doing, the work is always of the highest quality.”
Andrew’s early teenage apprenticeship saw him spend four days as part of the team and a day in college to further hone his skills. It’s a route this force has also taken in offering apprenticeships with staff getting on-the-job experience alongside education.
Father-of-two Andrew – who enjoys personal fitness, gardening and family time – has never regretted his decision to go down this career path.
“Irrespective of the complexity of a case, or seriousness of it, it’s important you are proud of every job you work on and you treat each one with the same diligence,” he said.
“I thoroughly enjoy working at WMP, it’s a great employer and there are plenty of opportunities. They do support employees and it’s a great place to work.”