Crime scene examiners (CSEs) use analytical techniques to collect physical evidence on crime scenes. As such, they often have close contact with dead bodies and body fluids. Research on trauma and coping among CSEs is in its infancy in South Africa. The aim of the study was to conduct a phenomenological study on the trauma and coping methods used by CSEs at four Local Criminal Record Centres (LCRCs) in the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality. The objectives of the study were to investigate the nature of trauma experienced by the CSEs when interacting with violent and traumatic crime scenes, identifying the methods that CSEs use to cope with trauma experiences, and ascertain the usefulness of the coping methods CSEs use. A qualitative research approach was used as it focused on detailed descriptions of participants’ experiences and beliefs, and was fitting for a study with unquantifiable data. Thus, due to paucity of local studies regarding research problem, objectives articulated for the study prescribed the utilisation of transcendental phenomenology research design. Personal interviews were conducted with 25 CSEs, utilising a semi-structured interview schedule. The data was analysed to find a subjective meaning of different realities. The findings suggested that CSEs are potentially at risk of adopting maladaptive behaviour to cope with stress because of a lack of support. Noteworthy observations are that ineffective coping results to neglecting work details to avoid triggering stress, refusing to use debriefing and support programmes and self-isolation which often leads to severe depression and in some cases suicide.
Key words: trauma; crime scenes; coping; forensic investigation; murder; crime scene examiners and City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality.
Dissertation (MA (Criminology))--University of Pretoria, 2020.