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Working within a Cold Case Unit

Hi, my name is Christopher. I am a Computer Forensics and Security student with a passion for everything IT. As part of my course, I had the opportunity to be part of a Cold Case Unit.

The Cold Case Unit (CCU) consists of a group of students from Criminology, Computer Forensics and Security, respective staff and a charity organisation Locate. The unit looks at real-life cold cases (cold due to time unsolved and exhausted main leads) that are reopened either at the request of relatives, Locate, or the Police.

As a collective team, we have been focussing on a large-scale case of a missing person, missing since 1989. We have been conducting research into the case to identify new information and to piece together the events of the disappearance. We were able to talk to a living relative about the missing person and view historical details about the case. We could provide our own suggestions of how to move forwards as well as follow set actions.

The Unit has brought my learning experiences to a different light; during my Forensic Investigative Techniques module, Dr. Pip Trevorrow highlighted how some real-life cases, be it a cold case, criminal case, or civil case, can be extremely challenging due to their vast complexity. Upon working in the CCU, I can now see the reality of this. I have been able to take what I learnt in the FIT module, such as applying a methodology to a case and apply that knowledge to this cold case. This has been exceptionally advantageous. My knowledge from the FIT module has enabled me to make sense of this immensely complex case through various formats, thus allowing for easier digestion of the information within the case.

This has been a very interesting challenge and has been extremely compelling. What I have enjoyed the most about the CCU is our communication within the meetings. These informal meetings are utilised to discuss ideas, the research, and intelligence we have gathered on our allocated actions. It has been intriguing to listen to other student's ideas and conclusions about the entire case, as well as putting across my own ideas. In doing this, it has enabled us all to tackle this case from our own angle. As a result, being part of the CCU has enhanced my communication and listening skills further.

Overall, being in the CCU has enabled an experience that I will cherish forever and be able to take into my future career, as it has enabled me to work through real-life cases. One of the major things being part of the CCU has shown me is that the case affects real people’s lives, and therefore, should not be taken lightly and requires our full focus and dedication.

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About the Author

Christopher Richardson

Christopher studies MEng Computer Forensics and Security in the School of Built Environment, Engineering and Computing

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