Cast of CSI Abu Dhabi

With 120 trained experts in crime-scene management in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the northern Emirates, the CSI department takes the lead in gathering the evidence.

An ultraviolet light is used to illuminate fingerprints at Forensic Science Department in Abu Dhabi.
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ABU DHABI // They are first to arrive at crime scenes. They put up the yellow tape, ensure that the integrity of the scenes are preserved, take pictures, look for evidence to be bagged and then send all the information they collect to forensic laboratories for analysis. With 120 trained experts in crime-scene management in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the northern Emirates, the Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) department takes the lead in gathering the evidence to make a solid case.

Although the CSI is housed in the same building as the Forensic Science Department, it works separately. With two mobile laboratories at their disposal, "the crime scene investigators and lab technicians are able to conduct investigations as if they were here in the lab", said Capt Ibrahim Ali Mahmood, head of the major crimes unit of the CSI. There is not as much equipment in the mobile lab as there is at headquarters, but it has enough "to gather all the evidence needed and send it instantaneously to the Forensic Science Department for analysis", he said.

When the mobile labs are insufficient and a specific skill is needed, Capt Mahmood said, "we arrive first on the scene and decide who gets called". CSI experts are assigned to every police station, where they are available 24 hours a day. Those experts are police officers themselves. When the police receive an emergency call, CSI officers are sent if a crime has been committed. The investigators' duties include arson cases.

"Our goal is to arrive within minutes on the scene, depending on the distance of course, but we have the equipment to open up traffic lights for us. In 30 to 45 minutes we can sift through the crime scene and have the sufficient evidence. Every minute counts in this job," Capt Mahmood said. Maintaining the integrity of a crime scene is one of the most important considerations in building a criminal case. In 2006, a crime-scene training "village" was established in Abu Dhabi Police College.

Capt Mahmood said experts such as James Gallagher, who worked as a crime scene detective with London's Metropolitan Police for 34 years, train police officers. "The crime scene village is comparable with training facilities in London and the United States." Capt Mahmood studied forensics and worked in Britain for five years. "As Abu Dhabi's population grows with more and more expatriates from all walks of life coming here, we are starting to see similarities between the kind of crimes here and in London," he said.

"Our response has to be proactive. We cannot wait for a major crime problem and then respond. We have to anticipate that with the increase of population in any country, crime will follow."