Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Examples of Scene Tents

A week ago I had written a post part of which speculated about the size of the blue scene tent that was erected over Dr Kelly's body between Dr Hunt confirming death at 12.35 on Friday 18th July and his reappearance on the scene at about 14.10 with Mr Green.  It stayed there until the arrival of the hearse for removal of the body late afternoon.  By the time PC Sawyer and his new team resumed their fingertip search at 19.24 it would have gone.

This website is for one firm that makes such tents in its range.  I'm not saying that they were suppliers to Thames Valley Police at the time we are interested in but at least we get an idea of what these scene tents are all about.  This firm are boasting that their tents can be erected in 10 to 15 seconds!  Also of interest is the fact that they say that their tents can be joined together so instead of 3m by 3m say one could have a covered area of 6m by 3m.  What did they have at Harrowdown Hill?  Mr Green's evidence suggests that he was working alongside Dr Hunt for much of the time, for instance he was present when Dr Hunt discovered the blister packs.  With a photographer as well there wouldn't have been a huge amount of surplus space in a 3m by 3m tent in my opinion.

Regarding the familiar white tent seen in the media pictures and erected in the field immediately to the east of Harrowdown Hill there is a good helicopter shot in this video:  It's visible just after 20 seconds in and is square and looking at the nearby vehicles not particularly big.  Dr Hunt explained to Lord Hutton at the Inquiry it was there as a place where one could write up notes etc out of any inclement weather.  Whether it was used as such I don't know.  It is amazing how many people in the past have mistaken the location of the white tent as the place where the body was found.

If any Thames Valley police are reading this blog and would like to comment on the size of your scene tents please feel free to do so.  Anonymity is assured!


  1. How common I wonder is the use of two tents in a suspicious death crime scene? I would have thought positioning close to the tree line would have given even more protection from the elements.

  2. I imagine that a suspicious death crime scene is relatively rare in a rural spot like Harrowdown Hill with no buildings in the immediate vicinity. Where I live in the Devon/Cornwall area such deaths in the countryside are thankfully unusual but seem even more shocking to me when they do happen. My own thought is that at a site like HH it wouldn't be that odd to have two tents.

    We must remember too that the final fingertip search wasn't completed until 19.35. Although I believe the overall time spent on forensic examination on site could have been markedly shortened if the will had been there it could be argued that the British weather being so fickle a second tent was a sensible precaution.

    Andrew Watt wrote a post on his blog on the 7th November querying the weather on the 17th and 18th July 2003. A reply from Daphne, who lives about 10 miles from HH, said that she recalled a very heavy rainstorm on the 18th. This is in addition to early press reports talking about some rain on the previous day.

  3. There was a well known and well reported suspicious death scene near Bristol very recently in a rural area. I wonder what the layout was there? That death was deemed immediately suspicious and in that case, the police were looking for evidence: the fingertip search of the area went on through a second day. Early report here,from which it seems rather a different approach from Harrowdown Hill was followed!
    Incidentally, I always wondered where that aerial footage of Harrowdown Hill came from. Was there, for example, aerial footage from Bristol, just to take that recent high profile example (though it was Christmas Day)?

  4. I think that firms that own helicopters get very good business from the media these days! It certainly helps the public to take in the view and no worry about trying to get across police cordons!

    In the Bristol case one must remember too the presence of snow. With the body having possibly been there for some time I assume that the fingertip search had a "vertical" dimension as well with the police searching through the depth of snow.

  5. The tent in the wood would allow people to re-arrange the scene without being observed.