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What do you do?
In Scotland, she is considered an expert on sexual crimes and she sits on the COPFS Expert Advisors’ Group on Sexual Crime and the Managed Clinical Network for child sexual abuse.
She is a Scottish forensic physician to the Forensic Medicine Committee of the British Medical Association, and is also a faculty of forensic and legal medicine at the Royal College of Physicians. She has also worked with Fife Constabulary, and Lothian & Borders Police.
CRIMECRACKING sleuths solving suspicious deaths may be the image of a forensic medical examiner (FME) portrayed by pulp fiction and popular TV.
But the role of Fife‘s first FME Dr Kranti Hiremath is a great-deal more complex and wide-ranging than the stereotype. Dr Kranti stated that her job is to visit crime scenes, to examine the victim or the accused, and to give an impartial forensic report.
Ensuring people in custody receive the medical attention they require, establishing fitness to plead in court or fitness to drive through drugs and alcohol and establishing when someone has been the victim of sexual abuse are also in a day’s work for Kranti.
It is unusual for a comparatively small police force to have a dedicated FME. But since she joined Fife Police in January 2004, Kranti has played a major role in ensuring those who deal with both the victims of crime and detainees administer the correct treatment and support.
Much of her role involves training police officers to recognise the crucial signs that someone in custody requires medical attention.
Said Kranti: “This affects around sixty per cent of people who are taken into police custody. We usually do not have access to their medical records so it is essential that we can spot the signs of serious illness.”
Why is your work important?
Before Kranti joined the Force, child victims of sexual abuse had to endure a journey to Edinburgh to be examined.
But through Kranti’s efforts, the essential examination equipment – the colposcope – is now located in the Child Protection Suite in Dunfermline.
“This means that children who have suffered such a traumatic experience, can at least be seen in Dunfermline by local doctors:” Kranti explained.
What did you study?
A medical degree is the starting point for becoming an FME. Kranti’s career began in gynaecology – but after gaining a diploma in forensic medicine and medical jurisprudence – she worked as an FME for Lothian and Borders Police for over seven years.
She pursued a post-graduate degree in clinical forensic science from Glasco University in 1994, and joined the Scottish Police Service as a forensic physician in 1995.
How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and interesting career?
“I am basically a gynaecologist, and later developed interest in forensic science. After my daughter grew up, I went for post-graduation. I was a bit hesitant when I started my career in police service, but officials there were very encouraging. I was very thrilled while receiving the MBE award from Queen Elizabeth,” she said.
“UK police are very open. They are more serious when there are allegations about harassment by the police. Being a doctor, I have to treat all equally, though I am a part of the police service,” she says.
How did you start ?
Dr Kranti Hiremath felt like a “rank outsider” when she moved into Lothian and Borders Police from the NHS in 1996. But she says she’s always been supported and helped in what she wanted to do.
In 2004, she became the first full-time forensic medical examiner to be employed by the police in Scotland. Apart from her duties for the force, she has been invovled in the Sexual Offences review and contributed to training given to prosecutors.
“The police have encouraged me to go on lots of different courses, which has helped me develop the field of the forensic medical service,” she says.
Kranti obtained her postgraduate qualifications while working full-time, and was responsible for initiating the training of medical aspects of custodies for police officers and staff.
She feels that because the police are a 24-hour emergency service, there is no easy answer for women with childcare responsibilities who want to develop within the forensic medical service.
“It would be great to have more women doctors coming in,” she says. “It’s very difficult because lots of women have children, and they need to have flexibility, but lots of bad things happen 24/7, so we need women willing to work those hours.”
“From the police point of view, if they have someone in custody and they have a six-hour detention, someone needs to be seen in that time so they can progress with their enquiries, so we can’t say we don’t have anyone there.
“I think having more staff would be a better option.”