What you need to know about crime scene cleaning
Most of us are fortunate enough that we will never require trauma or crime scene cleaning services. But for those who do, it’s a traumatic, distressing and stressful time.
While it may be the last thing on your mind following a tragic incident, it’s important to understand what trauma and crime scene cleaning entails and why it’s important to address it as soon as possible.
Who’s responsible for crime scene cleaning?
At a time of great distress, it may surprise you to learn that the clean up of a crime scene is the responsibility of the property owner. Or, if the property owner is the deceased, then responsibility falls to the next of kin.
It’s a common misconception that the organisation and cost of cleaning a crime scene falls to the emergency services – usually the police. But this isn’t the case. Business owners and landlords are responsible for the organisation and costs for crime scene cleaning on any commercial and/or rented premises – whether domestic or trade, while homeowners or the next of kin are responsible for domestic properties.
While some insurance policies may cover crime scene or trauma cleaning, it isn’t guaranteed and individual policies should always be checked.
As an important note, it’s worth considering that crime scene cleaning cannot commence until the scene has been signed off by the police.
What’s involved in crime scene cleaning?
Crime and trauma scenes naturally involve hazardous substances, including bodily fluids and blood. Because of this, strict legislations and guidelines are in place surrounding their cleaning, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of anyone who uses the building or area.
Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV are all serious risks at crime and trauma scenes. And as they are transferred via bodily fluids, extreme care, caution, knowledge and equipment is essential when attempting to clean an area affected by trauma.
Decontamination, insect infestation, and the tracing and removal of bodily fluids is the basic process of tackling a crime or trauma scene, therefore, it’s essential that experienced trauma cleaners are tasked to complete the clean. A professional cleaning company will also have processes in place to prevent cross contamination.
It’s also important to note that any contaminated materials require correct disposal and cannot be disposed of alongside household waste. An experienced and qualified crime scene cleaning provider will be licensed waste carriers and will be able to correctly and safely dispose of affected materials.
What support is available?
Experiencing a traumatic event is life-changing and most people will require emotional and psychological support in the following weeks, months, and even years to allow them to acknowledge, process and accept what has happened.
Traumatic or criminal incidents can overwhelm an individual. And the stress, fear, and shock encountered during that time can inhibit a person’s ability to cope. This inability to cope can go on and lead to physical, emotional or psychological harm. Whether involved directly or indirectly, both groups of people can be affected and both need the right support and environment to overcome the experience.
The following symptoms are common for those involved in a traumatic incident and are completely normal. Individuals should start to see these symptoms decrease over the first two – four weeks, but if they don’t, they can go on to form PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).
Common symptoms include:
- Nightmares and trouble sleeping
- Flashbacks and recurring thoughts
- Avoidance of places or activities that remind the individual of the incident
- Withdrawal and isolation
- Difficulties with concentration and memory
- Loss of appetite or comfort eating
- Headaches and dizziness
- Depression expressed as denial, feelings of guilt, feeling insecure, anxiety, irritability
Local GP surgeries should be able to direct you to counselling support, but it’s worth noting that there are a wide range of charities who specialise in offering support after certain tragedies.
You may find the following list helpful:
- https://www.samm.org.uk/ – Support after murder and manslaughter
- https://supportaftersuicide.org.uk/ – Support After Suicide
- https://uksobs.org/ – Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide
- https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/ – Victim Support (of any crime)
- https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Suicide/Documents/Help%20is%20at%20Hand.pdf – Support after somebody has died by suicide
- https://www.mind.org.uk/ – MIND, the mental health charity