It's not like CSI, says victim identification expert

5:02 pm on 5 March 2011

The leader of a disaster victim identification team from Britain says the reality of the process does not resemble the fiction of TV programmes like CSI.

It's slow, Nick Bracken says, because it must be precise.

Mr Bracken, a London Metropolitan Police commander, says identification work can take a long time, because staff must be certain they are correct.

He says in some disasters, bodies have been wrongly identified, and that's why they take so much care with their process.


"It is numbers," he says. "It is also the reality as opposed to the fiction of TV programmes like CSI.

"DNA isn't instantaneous. You don't just press a button... It is the gathering of dental records and all the other information that makes sure the identification is carried out correctly."

Mr Bracken says the confluence of so much international expertise strengthens the victim identification process in Christchurch.

Twenty-six victims have been officially named so far, and police say they remain hopeful all the quake victims will be identified.