Jim's blog: It Takes 2 - ‘Every Contact Leaves a Trace’


I’m famous - I’ve had a book written about me! Well, I was mentioned in a book … once .. and not by name. 

I guess I’m not really famous after all.

A former colleague of mine from my policing days has recently written a book (Blue A Memoir by John Sutherland) about his experiences in the police and his recent challenges with depression.

As I knew him quite well I immediately purchased the book and read it. Many things struck me on reading his book and I wanted to share a couple of those things.

Firstly I have absolutely no recollection of the incident where he mentions me. Apparently we were patrolling together in Peckham, when we were called to a young man holding a knife to his own neck and threatening to kill himself. This incident has long since disappeared from my memory but it had obviously had a significant impact on John for him to remember it and talk about it in the book By the way apparently the young man survived.

This reminded me that people who have encountered the same experiences can be affected by those experiences in very different ways. I guess it has a lot to do with personal characteristics and where you are emotionally and mentally at the particular time one encounters that experience.

Secondly in his book John talks a lot about Locard’s principle. This is traditionally a forensic principle that states, ‘Every contact leaves a trace’. For example when a burglar enters a house they might break a window and cut themselves and leave fingerprints and traces of blood on the window sill and take away fragments of the window glass on their clothing. Locard’s principle is the fundamental rule of forensic investigation.

However John takes this principle/idea further. He suggests that every interaction we have we have leaves a trace on both sides of that interaction. He believes that there was a gradual build up of ‘traces’ that led to his depression.

It seems me that every interaction we have with any person, however fleeting, even just passing someone in the street has an impact. Whether we say hello or ignore that person, that ‘contact’ moment will leave some sort of (positive or negative) ‘trace’ on both sides of that encounter.

John left a very positive ‘trace’ on me even though we only worked together for a couple of years back in the early nineties. He was a very open and caring person. I particularly remember that he gave me a CD for my birthday one year. Not only was the giving of a present to a colleague quite an unusual thing in the police – but John showed great sensitivity in noticing it was my birthday and giving me a CD by an obscure artist who I had mentioned to John that I liked. I still play that CD.

I think it is vitally important that we remember how powerful our actions and words can be to the people we meet/work with.

With It Takes 2 we are trying to encourage positive reciprocal relationships. It is vital that we are mindful of the effect we can have on people and role model thoughtful positive interactions so that we enhance people lives rather than inhibit them.

Every ‘It Takes 2’ contact leaves a positive trace’’

Find out more about It Takes 2.

17th November 2017