THE most serious and often harrowing acts of criminality will be investigated by the team based in the major crimes unit at Cheshire Police.

It is their task to ensure the most dangerous of criminals are detained, charged and justice is served.

But what is life like for the team of detectives and senior investigating officers who are responsible for homicides.

It’s no surprise that every day is different but it’s a case of prioritising the best way to handle the busy workload according to DCI Simon Blackwell, who oversees the department comprising of between 60 and 80 officers.

“When a homicide comes in, we have to shut the scene and plan the best way to recover the evidence,” said the detective chief inspector, who has worked at Cheshire Constabulary for 23 years.

“You only get one chance to collect the evidence and you could damage the crime scene if it’s not done properly.

“We would have a plan, sadly, how to recover a body, how we are going to recover evidence such as DNA, bloods from the scene and how we will search for any other evidence.”

The past 12 months have been a busy time for the team, who on average investigate three or four murders a year.

“Since April, we are running on double that but that’s the same nationally – there’s been a national spike,” said the 45-year-old.

“In Warrington there has been the Angela Craddock and Declan Bunting murders.”

In order to secure a charge, the police must submit the case outlining the evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

The unit is typically managing between up to 30 cases at any one time.

This could include serious hospital negligence, the discovery of body remains, large-scale fraud and historic sexual abuse at the highest level.

“Each one of those investigation will have some sort of review or briefing about where the case is up,” said DCI Blackwell.

“All these investigations are on a conveyor belt at different stages. There is always plenty of work to do and it’s about prioritising.”

One of the team’s most high-profile cases involved former football coach Barry Bennell who was described by the an ‘industrial-scale child molester’ and a ‘predatory and determined paedophile’ during the court hearing last year after targeting junior players.

But it’s not an easy task to investigate allegations from decades gone by as these cases can be ‘delicate and challenging’.

“The victims are on journey themselves about what happened, and they are at a point in their lives where they have decided to report it,” said DCI Blackwell.

“You need to look at what could corroborate the account.

“We have to understand what evidence there is and what witnesses we have and any third-party material.

“That could be the notes of the schools, the education departments and medical notes.

“The work you would do on a normal investigation is not available like forensics, CCTV and ANPR.

“These are things that are normally routine but they are not there now because the offence was 30 or 40 years ago.”

Detectives also have the clock to contend with.

“There are strict custody time limits,” said DCI Blackwell.

“We work in a society where your humans rights are respected and you should have a trial in a reasonable time.”

As there are a lot of facets to a case, there is not a one-size fits all approach so regular review meetings are held.

DCI Blackwell added: “Some of those discussions may focus on what the evidential gaps are, the forensic strategy, how to utilise digital media to understand the Telecoms evidence.

“Some of those meeting will take a focus on the family liaison and next of kin and how we are managing and updating them as well as the media strategy.

“There are key elements to any major investigation and there are lots of different facets it.”