Police evidence exhibit bar-code and envelope.
Police evidence exhibit bar-code and envelope. Alison Paterson

Working behind the scenes to catch crims

BICYCLES, mobile phones, drugs, boats and firearms are just some of the 5000 items which annually pass through the chain of evidence stores managed by the Exhibits team at Lismore Police Station.

Using cutting edge auditing equipment known as the Exhibits, Forensics Information and Miscellaneous Property System (EFIMS), the exhibits team record, tag and store items from crime scenes with a unique bar-code to ensure they will be available should they need to be accessed for further analysis or presentation at court.

Around 50 per cent of the exhibits Lismore Police tag and bag are drug related and 20 per cent involve firearms and all are kept securely under lock and key.

According to Senior Constable Ross Wilson, 50, the two-person exhibits team comprises a significant element of processes which are used to secure a conviction.

"Exhibits is the behind the scenes work, we can store long-term exhibits for ongoing cases such as murders at the extreme end and even at the bottom end miscellaneous property such as lost phone handed in," he said.

"We deal with a whole range of property handed into police possession for whatever reason."

Snr Const Wilson said when such items come into police possession, it is tagged and assessed if it will need to be stored or sent away for analysis or examination locally or in Sydney.

He agreed it's a job which demands a robust concentration, an excellent memory, strong communications skills and the ability to understand connecting sequences.

"There's a lot of cross-referencing when articles come into our possession fortunately there's a lot science involved with DNA and fingerprinting a lot of links are made," he said.

"We have items in storage for 20 years which are related to unsolved murder investigations, cases still ongoing."

In one evidence storage room a refrigerator holds biological evidence kits, while in another, firearms are locked in a secure area.

Snr Const Wilson said Lismore has its own Forensic Support Group.

"If a firearm has been used in an offence once its sent away for ballistics report, the FSG undertake the testing and any fingerprint from it gets stored in a state database so it can be referenced," he said.

"Then FSG inform us if there's a match to other crimes, everything is cross-referenced."

The job gives great satisfaction, Snr Const Wilson said.

"Being part of the team to get people convicted, to get people convicted, particularly (regarding) drug dealers and serious violent crimes, you are part of the team that does the work behind the scene to having exhibits analysed," he said.

"Every police officer plays a role to get the conviction and at Local Area Command, we do everything."

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