[Press & Publications] DEALING WITH DISASTER

June 1999

No 101

Leicester University Scarman Centre expert Dr Simon Bennett reviewed a high profile crash investigation when he spoke at the International Fire Training Centre at Teesside International Airport.

Speaking at a seminar, "Dealing with Major Disaster Scenes", held under the auspices of the National Training Centre for Scientific Support to Crime Investigation, Dr Bennett discussed the FBI/National Transportation Safety Board investigation into the 1996 crash of a TWA jet in New York, in which members of the Bureau were accused of prejudging the investigation.

Dr Bennett commented: "A partnership approach in which skills and experience are shared provides the best modus operandi."

The seminar concluded with two exercises, as Dr Bennett explained: "In the first a passenger jet had managed to land but had sustained fire damage. In the second an aircraft had crash-landed, shedding its wings and tail. Bodies and personal effects had been scattered over a wide area, as had happened in the 1974 DC-10 crash at Ermenonville Forest, where six tons of debris were recovered from the tree canopy.

"In such situations crime scene officers, working in conjunction with the Coroner, are expected to be able to think rationally and to search for, identify and log bodies, body parts and personal effects.

"This task means being able to work for long periods with little rest. The urgency derives from the fact that bodies decompose. The objective is to impose order on a chaotic situation."

Dr Bennett concluded: "I was impressed with the calibre of the students. In my view Britain leads the world in disaster investigation".

Further information is available from Dr Simon Bennett, Scarman Centre for the Study of Public Order, Leicester University, telephone 0116 252 5700.

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Information supplied by: Barbara Whiteman. ara@le.ac.uk
Last updated: 14 June 1999 14:37
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