Scavenging in Northwestern Europe: A Survey of UK Police Specialist Search Officers
Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice
Physical search methods used by police specialist searchers are based on counter-terrorism methods and not on the search and recovery of outdoor surface deposited human remains, nevertheless these methods are applied to scenes involving human remains. Additionally, there is limited published forensic literature within Northwestern Europe on the potential taphonomic agents within this region that are capable of modifying human remains through scavenging, scattering and removal. The
... ism basis in physical search methods and the gap in published forensic literature regarding scavenging in this region can potentially impede searchers' abilities to adapt physical search methods to their full efficiency in the search and recovery of scavenged human remains. This paper analysed through a questionnaire survey of 111 police specialist searchers, within the U.K., the impact of animal scavenging on the search and recovery of human remains. According to questionnaire respondents' experiences and knowledge, the occurrence of scavenging at scenes in which respondents took part in a physical search for human remains was common (63.46%, n= 66) and happened most frequently with surface deposits (68.25%, n= 43). Scavenging resulted in the recovery of incomplete sets of remains (59.79%, n= 58) and influenced search perimeters (58.33%, n= 35). Scavenging also affected recovery rates at scene searches (80.43%, n= 74) that included the use of cadaver dogs with police handlers. The impact scavengers within this region have on different crime scene scenarios and search methods is not reflected in current published literature or search standards.