WMPeople: Forensics Apprentice, Ella Woodall

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Not many people can say that they get their ‘dream job’ by the age of 19 but Ella Woodall did just that, after starting her forensic apprenticeship with West Midlands Police.

Ella, from Shropshire, wrote about wanting to work in forensics as part of a school assignment a few years ago but never expected to be successful so soon.

She, along with 1,600 others, applied to join our forensic services apprenticeship last year and was successful, landing one of just three places.

Ella, who is now 20, is loving all that her training offers and as part of National Apprenticeships Week is telling the story of her role and responsibilities in the WMP Forensic Services department.

“Ever since being at school I knew I wanted to go into Forensics one way or another; I even remember having to write a piece detailed on my ‘Dream Job’ for one of my German GCSE assessments. I can tell you now, essentially writing an application in German is a lot more challenging without the use of Google translates that’s for sure. However, I think it was from this moment that I really opened my eyes to a career as such, to which I went on to gain work experience for the forensic risk management company, Smart Water Ltd, and liaised with my a family member in Forensics in Merseyside Police to help start making my dreams a reality.“When applying for the apprenticeship, I was also going through my University application, but I knew in my heart that university wasn’t for me. I wanted to work in a fast paced environment and to miss the opportunity of getting first-hand experience within the Force, I knew I would be silly to turn it down. When I initially told my friends and family, I think people assumed I would be the designated tea maker, but to my surprise I am yet to make anyone a cuppa, which I am a little disappointed at because I really have mastered the art of tea making! My college course provides me with a Level 3 Laboratory Technician qualification, although this isn’t equivalent to a degree, in my personal opinion, the support and knowledge I have gained along the way is more than what a standard university course could have taught me.

“As an apprentice I am based in the Fingerprint Development Lab (FDL) but also support other departments across Forensic Services, such as the Fingerprint Bureau and the Major Crime Lab along with having involvement with FIRST and Digital Forensics. My main responsibility is to ensure the integrity and continuity of evidence submitted, chemically treated and photographed within the laboratory. My daily duties can vary within the lab from chemically treating exhibits submitted in the hope of enhancing or developing any latent fingerprints/plantar marks, to working with the Forensic Imagery software (FISH) to produce scene CDs and albums.

“I have tried to take any opportunity that has been available during my apprenticeship; an example of this is my recent validation work which required me to verify a new piece of equipment used for Ninhydrin treatment within the laboratory. I took ownership of planning and practical testing for this validation work and offered support to two other Forces in their validation work also.

“For me, one of the best parts of this programme has been liaising with other members of staff across the Force in my daily role, along with getting involved in FAB recruitment days for student police officer applicants. Last year, I volunteered to become a Dyslexia Assessor for WMP, and it was on this training that I met some great individuals with varying job roles. It was so interesting to hear what everyone does and how their role contributes to policing and this is something I will never get tired of hearing. For anyone looking to join the force, go for it, and take every chance you get along the way!

“Working alongside so many friendly faces, especially within FSD, has helped drive me to want to gain permanent employment within the force, and just recently I was successful in obtaining the role of a Forensic Technician within FDL, to which I couldn’t be more delighted. I know I am very early in my career being only 20 years of age, but there is so much I want to help contribute to, and this opportunity has been the first step towards doing so.”


If you’d like to follow Ella into a role in our Forensic Services team, or to look at other roles on offer, visit: https://jobs.west-midlands.police.uk/