Who cleans up crime scenes?

Thursday 3rd March

5 minute read

Crime scene cleaners (also known as forensic cleaners or bioremediation specialists) are a team of highly-skilled technicians that are fully equipped to handle a crime scene cleanup with sensitivity and professionalism.

Whether the crime scene is a result of violent crimes or a burglary, it's a traumatic and often dangerous event that will require a specialist team to execute a crime scene cleanup efficiently.

Is crime scene cleaning the same as trauma cleaning?

A crime scene is classed as a traumatic incident. Any situation where someone dies or you think you were going to die is classed as a trauma. So crime scene cleaning and trauma cleaning are interweaved.

Some examples of traumatic events are:

  • Being seriously injured or experiencing sexual violence.
  • Serious accidents, e.g. a car crash.
  • Physical or sexual assault.
  • War and conflict.
  • Terrorist attacks.

Why do you need to use professional crime scene cleaning services?

Firstly, professional crime scene cleaners will often work closely with the emergency services and crime scene investigators, which gives them an unrivalled ability to deal with trauma scenes.

Secondly, they are highly qualified and fully accredited to clean and dispose of blood spill, bodily fluids and other biological material from contaminated areas, which can contain dangerous viruses and bacteria such as HIV or Hepatitis B or C. If these are not cleaned up properly, they can spread and cause serious health problems.

A professional cleaning company will know how to safely remove hazardous substances from a crime scene so that there isn't a direct threat to public health.

Thirdly, professional crime scene cleaning technicians wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep themselves and everyone around them safe from potential biohazards, while having a clear understanding of the sensitive situations that can come from a trauma scene.

Can a standard cleaning service clean a crime scene?

Crime scene cleaning is a specialist field. Standard cleaning companies don't have the experience or tools necessary to deal with issues that may arise from a crime scene, that's why experts are vital in ensuring the property or area is safe once again.

Most standard cleaning companies don't hold the relevant certification requirements to be listed as a crime scene or trauma cleaner, and training is always needed to ensure that the cleanup is efficient and safe.

What is the process of a crime scene cleanup?

The process of crime scene cleaning requires specialist knowledge and experience to avoid contaminating or destroying any evidence that may be present.

When the coroner's office and government agency releases a crime scene to the accountable parties, a crime scene cleaners' work can begin. The cleaning can only begin their job once the investigation on the contaminated site has been completed.

Once on site, the technicians are expected to wear the relevant PPE, including protective eyewear to help protect themselves from infectious diseases such as Hepatitis and HIV.

The process of the crime scene clean-up usually follows a similar plan:

  • The technicians establish a safe working area and ensure that any hazards that may affect them and those around them are eliminated.
  • Remove any dangerous debris or materials. This can be broken glass, or other sharp or dangerous materials which may cause harm.
  • Clean and disinfect all areas of the crime scene to ensure that biohazards are eradicated.
  • Dispose of any offending materials that may cause cross contamination in a safe way.

What risks are involved for crime scene cleaners?

Crime scene cleaners face many risks while performing their duties. These include the risk of infection from micro-organisms (bacteria, viruses and fungi) as well as exposure to dangerous chemicals and fumes. Cleaning technicians may also face injury from needles or sharps which can carry bloodborne pathogens, such as Hepatitis B or HIV.

They also may be exposed to psychological trauma from dealing with violent crime scenes, so the cleaning process must be dealt with by a reputable company.

What areas do crime scene cleaners work in?

Crime scene cleaners can work in several different areas, depending on their level of expertise and experience. Some may choose to specialise in one specific area, such as a murder or a burglary, whereas some may prefer to work on all aspects of a crime scene cleanup.

Any respected company should have the qualifications necessary to work partake in any trauma cleaning job, most of which will be following a traumatic incident, such as murder. However, not all crime scenes involve blood and other bodily fluids.

Some crime scenes can be as simple as burglary or an act of vandalism. All respected crime scene cleanup companies will be able to partake in all trauma scenes.

Here are some of the areas that crime scene cleaning companies work within:

Vandalism clean-up

A vandalism clean-up is the process of cleaning up a property that has been vandalized. Although this type of crime scene very rarely involves biohazardous waste, it is still necessary to have a professional team that can clean up and restore a property that has been vandalised.

This may involve removing graffiti, repairing damage, and restoring the property to its original condition. In rare cases where someone has been hurt, blood spills may need to be cleaned if some kind of trauma has occurred due to the vandalism.

Burglary clean-up

A burglary clean-up is the process of cleaning up a property that has been burglarized. This may involve repairing damage, removing evidence, and restoring the property to its original condition.

In more extreme cases where a person has been attacked, biological materials, such as blood and bodily fluids may need to be removed to avoid cross-contamination.

Murder crime scene cleaning

Murder crime scene cleaning or homicide cleaning is the process of cleaning up a crime scene that has occurred in a property or on land where someone has been killed.

This may involve removing blood, body fluids and other evidence, repairing damage, and restoring the property to its original condition.

Road traffic accident cleanup

A road traffic accident clean-up is the process of cleaning an area where a road traffic accident has occurred. This may involve removing debris, repairing damage, cleaning up blood and bodily fluids, if the accident was serious and restoring the area to its original condition.

Most professional crime scene cleaning companies will also hold licenses to clean chemicals and hazardous substances such as oil and petrol, which is especially important in the case of a road traffic accident.

How do I choose a crime scene cleaning company?

Crime scene cleaning is a specialist service, so when looking for the right company, always consider the individual experience and qualifications of the employees. Make sure to ask the following questions:

  • Do they have proof of the relevant training needed to be a specialist crime scene cleaner?

  • Are they accredited by any governing bodies, such as Safe Contractor or Altius?

  • Do they have all the correct personal protective equipment?

  • Do they offer a 24/7 service?

  • Do they have any testimonials?

  • Can they provide you with details of their insurance policies?

  • Do they have a health and safety procedures in place?

These questions will help to determine the reputability of the company and whether they can provide a professional crime scene cleaning service.