The Italian ERASMUS – A Forensics Placement Experience

Jacqueline McDermott, who is studying Forensic Investigation, is currently on a placement at Istituto di Scienze Forensi in Italy, one of our EFEN partner companies (the European Forensic Education Network). Jacqueline’s placement is the first placement with an EEFN Partner, which Dr Claire Gwinnett set-up as part of a funded ERASMUS Strategic Partnerships Project.

Thinking of doing an ERASMUS placement? Jacqueline shares her experiences and takes us through a few examples of her day whilst on placement in Italy. 

“[On Friday 9th November, I attended] a forensics meeting in Milan. I had the opportunity to meet with Robert Milne from the Met Police and do a workshop with him on electrostatic lifting. I have also met with the CEO of The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences, Anya Hunt, who has decided to give me 3 months free membership (very exciting!).”

The placement has already led on to other opportunities, including being offered a new placement at Securcube from April to June and an opportunity to receive further training in the UK for Fire Investigation.

“I have also managed to get another placement after my current one in Italy with a company called Securcube. So I will be staying in Italy working in a digital lab until the end of June. I am really enjoying my placement so far! I think I made a very good decision.”

Jacqueline has also been invited to present at the Student Conference, hosted by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences, at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow in December 2019.

“While being at ISF and Securcube, I will be training in areas such a road traffic reconstructions, fire investigation and cell site analysis. Whilst i am here i will create a mock case including each of these areas so I can gain more experience in the investigation process and also gather enough information about the reconstruction, the digital data collected and how to gather evidence from the crime scene.”

Typical day at ISF

  •  Begin work at 9:00am, Break at 11am, lunch at 1pm and finish work around 6pm.
  • Working on something new and different each day.

Days spent out of the office consist of:-

  •  Attending an online course on Forensic science and criminal investigation; hosted by the European Forensic Institute (EFI) Lecturer: Professor Robert Milne (3-5 times a week)
  • Studying topics such as Road traffic reconstruction, basic chemistry and physics; and Fire investigation.
  • Working on dissertation idea
  • Working on real case files, making my own analysis on the images and information provided – doing equations to work out speed of vehicles for road traffic accidents, looking at fire patterns and electrical circuits for fire investigations.
  • Using new software such as Amped Five to create better quality videos or images (involving crimes of assault or traffic accidents) taken from CCTV or bystander’s cameras.

Days spent out of the office consist of:-

  • Visiting real crime scenes. – Visited the scene of a road traffic accident (involving 3 motorcyclists and a car) then made measurements at the scene to help with reconstruction. Visited a Fire scene in Vipiteno (3 residential houses went on fire) Took pictures of the scene, documenting damages and then creating a photo log. (Just like I have done in university).
  • Attending conferences and Networking – 2-day forensics Meeting (Met Robert Milne (Met police/Scotland yard), Peter and Claire Mansi (IFUK), Anya Hunt (CSOFS) etc.). Conference in Bologna. Met with Nicola Chemello (Organised a 3-month placement with Securcube).
  • Attended court to watch expert witnesses.

Jacqueline has said she has made many new friends and is staying with a friend, Andreas, and his family until April.

She has been able to visit many different parts of Italy –  including Treviso, Milan, Bologna, Florence, Verona, Lake Garda and Trieste – and has tasted lots of local food and even been wine tasting.

“I found out about the Erasmus project through one of the Careers fairs held at the uni. I have always wanted to experience working abroad and to visit Italy, so Claire helped me combine these both.”

“I am really enjoying the placement as it is allowing me to work in a new sector of Forensics I didn’t know existed, on top of experiencing all the great Italian food and wine! I think this opportunity will help me in the future as I have had the opportunity to work on my dissertation, and network with companies in Italy, the UK and meet with the CEO of CSOFS! I have also been offered training outside of university and a chance to present my Erasmus experience at a student conference in December. If anyone is considering doing a placement with the Erasmus Project, I would say DO IT!”



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About lmw2

Dr Laura Walton-Williams is the Course Leader for the Forensic Investigation Degrees at Staffordshire University. Her research interests focus on Forensic Biology, including DNA analysis, body fluid interpretation, sexual offences and blood pattern interpretation.

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