Scenes of crime

Above: The front-page of the Metro newspaper, 8 March, 2019. Credit: Oscopic.

SOCO Synecdoche

Scenes-of-crime officers (SOCOs) are responsible for taking evidence photos at the scene of a crime. They dress in a such a way that their own presence within the scene will not contaminate it--so hence their uniform of a disposable coverall, polythene overshoes, and nitrile gloves. The image of the scenes-of-crime photographer in full garb has become a news media metonym--the photo is used synecdochically. A photo-image of a person dressed this way introduces and stands for the entire crime scene. The image of the person suited up this way tells the reader: a grisly and depressing crime was committed. The viewer sees a SOCO and nothing more is needed. From this cipher, the fact of another stabbing, murder, etc. is inferred and presumed. Sometimes the image will include a run of striped polythene cordon tape, but the essence of this metonym is just a person in a Tyvek coverall holding a camera.

(9 March 2019)