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Physiological Measurement of Crime Scene Investigator Stress

NCJ Number
International Journal of Police Science & Management Volume: 14 Issue: 2 Dated: Summer 2012 Pages: 166-176
Rick Adderley; Lisa L. Smith; John W. Bond; Michelle Smith
Date Published
11 pages
This study investigated the degree of increased stress levels exhibited by crime scene investigators while performing their normal activities at a crime scene.
This study aims to identify quantitatively the level of increased stress in civilian crime scene investigators (CSIs) whilst they were performing a variety of tasks as part of their normal duties. Mean above-average resting heart rate was used as the quantitative measure of physiological changes, recorded once a second for 12 CSIs during a working shift of 8 hours over a period of 7 days. Each CSI maintained an activity log of their work which enabled the physiological readings to be aligned to tasks undertaken. As well as physical stress, results show that CSIs undergo psychosocial stress during the examination of routine crime scenes such as domestic burglary and vehicle examination. Increased levels of stress diminished between scene visits. Reasons for increased stress reactivity at routine crime scenes are considered and opportunities for further work discussed. This study demonstrates quantitatively the stress undergone by civilian CSIs and questions the effect this might have on the effective recovery of forensic material from the crime scene as well as the welfare of the CSI. (Published Abstract)