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UK police force advertises unpaid digital forensics jobs that involve checking 'distressing imagery'

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By Emma Beswick
UK police force advertises unpaid digital forensics jobs that involve checking 'distressing imagery'

Are you confident at dismantling computers and wouldn't be phased by routinely coming across distressing imagery? Then this volunteer position with West Midlands Police in the UK might be for you.

The police force is advertising unpaid roles to support investive officers in its forensics department.

The job description warns applicants must be aware "they will routinely come across distressing imagery including indecent images, fatal road traffic accidents, live CCTV footage recovery of incidents".

Volunteers are to work a minimum of 16 hours a month for a minimum of 6 months and having a criminal record "is not a barrier" for applicants, it added.

Candidates should have the ability to dismantle computers, have GCSE qualifications in Maths and Physics, as well as being 18 years old.

They will recieve on-going training and the role will mean they are "part of our Policing family," the advert said.

Some on Twitter criticised the police force's decision, saying the job should not be unpaid, while others said it was a good way to gain work experience and new skills.

Sam Raincock, a security consultant, said on Twitter she "cannot believe" the advert and called the scheme an "absolute disgrace" as well as "a disaster waiting to happen".

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be brought on vicariously through the viewing of video or images of a traumatic event if this viewing is work-related, according to the most recent edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).

DSM-V now states: "Experiencing repeated or extreme exposure to aversive details of the traumatic event(s)" can lead to PTSD or PTSD-related symptoms.

This "does not apply to exposure through electronic media, television, movies, or pictures, unless this exposure is work-related," it added.

Michelle Painter, the Assistant Director of Forensic Services, told Euronews in a statement that volunteers "are developing their experience and using their skills to help others and bring more people to justice".

She said they would have six monthly clinical supervision appointments, adding: “Their welfare is an important consideration and is reflected in the age restriction and the recruitment process."

Painter said that volunteers have not replaced staff and that "there has been no reduction in staffing numbers since their introduction".

“We appreciate that this line of work is not for everyone which is why we are explicit around the potential exposure to indecent and distressing imagery," she added.

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