11 July 2022

The British researcher Dr. Lorna Dennison-Wilkins research about how to facilitate the search for a person in water. She has started a collaboration with CARER and she is impressed with how LiU collaborates with authorities and others in this area.

Woman in diving suit.

Dr Lorna Dennison-Wilkins is an honours graduate in Criminology and a serving police officer in the British Police Service. She is a Police Search Adviser and spent eight years on a full-time advanced search team.

In January 2021 she was awarded her PhD at the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science at the University of Dundee for her research that built on her experiences of body recoveries in water on the Police Specialist Search Unit.

Some weeks ago she held a digital seminar about her research for CARER - Center for Advanced Research in Emergency Response, at LiU.

Can you give one example at what the most important thing is to reduce the number of people that never are find after drowning accident?

-I would say that clarity of the circumstances of the incident and gathering accurate information is really important to a missing person incident where a person is in water. Following this, careful consideration of initial actions to try and locate the body in the early stages and then an adjustment of the hypothesis as time moves on. Also, having really accurate records of what search and investigative activity has occurred so that the methods and search activity can be peer reviewed at stages throughout the investigation.

And how can we reduce the drowning accidents?

-It is crucial to use education and awareness of the dangers of water from a young age. Here in the UK this is not on the school curriculum and campaigners are trying to change this so water safety is taught in schools. We have high risk factors for young men who go missing after a night out, so this also has public safety campaigns aimed at it. The key, I believe is learning - from what is happening and then education and awareness to try and reduce drowning incidents.

Appreciate to cooperate with CARER and LiU

A portrait of a woman.Dr. Lorna Dennison-Wilkins - I think it is fantastic that you have CARER which collaborates with a range of  governmental and volunteer agencies and is interdisciplinary. The fact that it is so broad ranging and accommodates such a wide range of disciplines and people makes it very special and creates a foundation for creativity and innovation in research and response. I was so impressed to see the variety of colleagues who dialed into the seminar, and this gave a flavor of the collaborative and inclusive approach to work of CARER.

- I would like to see the model that you have with CARER replicated in the UK and elsewhere. I think it is a good example. My research does not sit in any one field so to have a sense of place to share, discuss and develop ideas and work would be great.

She also says that she has found that the professional roles in Sweden are very similar as in UK.

- And of course the whole reason why we work in this area is similar - it is for the good of others. I hope that we could continue to share expertise and knowledge and learn from each other in future events. From a geographical perspective I know that Swedish colleagues would be great to speak to about colder weather temperatures and the impact on search and recovery in winter months.

Body Recovery From Water Study

Visit bodywaterstudy website for more information about Lorna Dennison-Wilkins and her Body Recovery From Water Study.

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