Bereaved families forced to clean up crime scenes as police 'offer no help'

·3-min read
crime scene
crime scene

Rape victims and bereaved families are being left "traumatised" by having to clean up crime scenes in their homes, the Telegraph can reveal.

Relatives of murder victims have told of the "distressing task" of cleaning up blood stains left from an attack after police failed to follow protocol.

The Telegraph has learnt of one case where a rape victim had to clean up the scene after a stranger forced their way into her home and attacked her.

In another case, a bereaved family was forced to "slowly clean the property themselves" following a homicide due to "no help at all" from the police.

Charities criticised the "series of ad-hoc arrangements which leaves some people literally cleaning their own flesh and blood".

Victim testimony has revealed that investigators have not always arranged for professional cleaning after a forensic investigation as is established police procedure.

'No victim should ever be put in this position'

Dame Vera Baird QC, The Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, described the failure as "appalling and wholly preventable".

"Shockingly, as we now know, some families have been left to clear the blood from the crime scene where their loved ones were killed," she said. "It is unfathomable to me that loved ones were ever put in this position."

Dame Vera raised the issue with Dept Asst Commissioner Stuart Cundy, the police lead for homicide, who reiterated the national guidance to all force homicide leads.

She added: "The police manual is clear: no victim should ever be put in this position."

'They said they didn't have the budget'

Ian, 47, whose father-in-law was allegedly attacked in the family home with kitchen knives, described how he was left to clear up the aftermath after police took too long to get in professional cleaners.

"They said they didn’t have the budget for that," Ian said. "We were just blown away by that.

"The next day I went to meet the Superintendent in charge of the case and he gave me a brief outline of what we're expecting to see when you go through the door to try and limit the shock.

"There are no words that can describe what it feels like to scoop up loved ones’ remains," he said. "You can't ever get away from that. It leaves you with a sick feeling. It leaves you with sleepless nights, it leaves you just upset. Pure deep sadness and upset."

Frank Mullane, chief executive of Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse, which provides support to those bereaved by homicide, said: "I did a double take when I first heard a family member tell me how they had cleaned up the crime scene including the blood of their murdered loved one".

Claire Waxman, the Victims’ Commissioner for London, where many of the incidents have taken place, said: "The Met moved quickly to now ensure they cover the cost of any clean-up operation in a private home in London. But it simply can’t be right that there is no uniformed approach across the country, which means there could be other victims’ families and loved ones facing this additional trauma."

A spokesman for the Met Police said: "Following the completion of forensic investigations, crime scenes in private dwellings should be cleaned by professional cleaners. This is an established process and we believe it happens in the majority of cases.

"However, personal experiences shared on social media suggest that regrettably, there have been instances where this approach has not been followed. We apologise to those who have been exposed to additional trauma as a result.

"We will be taking steps to ensure that all relevant officers are reminded of the proper processes."

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