Crime scene management affects the quality, quantity, and integrity of the material collected. Therefore, it is important for investigators to identify and prioritize crime scenes, as they may contain material critical to the successful completion of the investigation.
Once investigators have identified a scene or scenes, they must make an initial assessment of the potential to provide material. The assessment and subsequent formulation of a scene strategy (which should include the allocation of necessary resources) should give due consideration to forensic strategy considerations. Undue delay or failure to consider forensic considerations at this stage may result in contamination, neglect or loss of valuable material.
Investigators must consider the impact that the safety and management of the scene can have on a community. You should consider community engagement strategies.
For more information, see:
- APP engagement and communication
- NPCC (2021) Major Crimes Investigation Manual (MCIM)
Crime Scene Investigators (CSI) und Manager
The extent to which investigators are responsible for managing the crime scene and developing crime scene strategies is influenced by the complexity or seriousness of the investigation and the policies of the local armed forces.
When collecting material, researchers should work with CSIs and managers to ensure they are using the most appropriate collection method.investigation of the scene.
The crime scene can be presented in a variety of ways and may not be immediately apparent to the investigator or first officer on duty. There may also be multiple crime scenes associated with the crime.
Scenes could include:
- The victim
- routes to and from the crime scene
- the suspect
- Weapons (including live and spent ammunition)
- the suspect's home address or other entities associated with the suspect or the commission of the crime
- Vehicles (including boats and caravans)
- Disposal or landfill sites (including victims, stolen clothing, weapons or property)
The crime scene is usually relatively easy to identify and this should be considered quick action (seefirst investigation). Multiple scenes may need to be prioritized. Victims or witnesses can tell investigators exactly where and how the crime was committed. This helps investigators secure, search and preserve the crime scene as quickly as possible and recover the best possible footage in a way that preserves its integrity.
For more information, seescene received.
backup of the scene
The purpose of securing a scene is to preserve the integrity and provenance of any material that may be recovered from it. This simple and important action reduces the likelihood of material contamination or accidental cross-contamination.
There are a number of methods that investigators can use to secure and manage crime scenes. They include:
- Use tape to prevent access to or from the crime scene
- Deploy officers to protect the crime scene (care must be taken to ensure officers are only present at a single crime scene to avoid cross-contamination)
- Use vehicles as barriers to prevent entry
- Build barricades to protect broader scenes
- Construction of temporary fences
- use road detours
- Ensure that persons entering the scene wear appropriate protective clothing to prevent contamination of the scene and ensure they are protected from any hazards present
- Use a scene log to manage and record all activity within a crime scene
Third-party access requests to a scene to take care of a victim
Immediately following a fatal or serious accident incident, a request for access to the scene of a crime to assist the victim may be made by a third party (not a member of the emergency services). For example, this may be a priest of the victim's faith or religion asking for last rites or other religious needs, or a family member wishing to comfort a loved one. While these requests are likely to be rare, they can be extremely important to the victim and their family (seeSerious Crime Investigation Guide, page 115 for a definition of the term “family”).
Such requests are likely to be relevant when the third party knows the victim is still at the site. This would not include planned crime scene visits for family members supported by afamily connectionofficially. For example, a priest who could make such a request would be familiar with ministering to the dying.
The decision to allow third party access to a crime scene is an operational decision and should be made by the Senior Investigative Officer (SIO) or an Incident Commander if an SIO has not yet been designated. If an SIO or Operations Manager is not available, requests for assistance should be escalated to a manager.
When considering such requests, decision makers shouldNational Decision Modeland the principles in thePolice College (2014) Code of Ethics. You should also read Articles 2 and 9 of theEuropean Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and whether the purpose of the request can be fulfilled without the third party entering the crime scene, e.g. standing at the edge of the crime scene close to the victim.
The decision maker must balance research and medical needs and priorities with empathy for the victim, their family, and any religious needs.
The following should also be considered.
- The immediate priority is to save life, provide first aid and take the victim to the hospital for further treatment. These measures are time-sensitive and subject to the judgment of the medical staff.
- Health and safety at and around the crime scene, including whether personal protective equipment is required.
- The need to secure and preserve the crime scene and the material it contains (consult with the crime scene manager).
- The complexity of the incident, the potential risk to the integrity of the investigation and the suspects' right to a fair trial (Article 6 of the ECHR).
- The rights and needs (including religious rights and needs) of the victim and their family (regardless of the status of family members in the investigation).
- The potential impact of granting or denying access to a family member.
- The status of family members related to the larger incident, for example whether a family member may also be a suspect.
If the victim has suffered significant trauma, the family should be informed so they can make an informed decision about whether to see their loved one.
Each incident is unique and all decisions made must be recorded with a supporting rationale.
Article 2 of the ECHRgrants the right to life. Public authorities must consider the right to life when making decisions that may endanger a person or affect life expectancy. The state is also required to investigate suspicious deaths and deaths in custody. See also theSerious Crime Investigation Guide.
Article 8 of the ECHRestablishes the right to respect for private and family life. A person has the right to maintain family relationships without interference from a public authority (this could be construed as having access to a loved one when they are injured or dying). There are situations in which public authorities can interfere with this right. This includes when necessary to protect national security, public safety, or to prevent crime or civil disturbance.
Article 9 of the ECHRestablishes the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; However, the right to profess one's religion (which could be construed to include last rites to the dying) is subject to limitations prescribed by law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety and to protect public order, health or morality or to protect the rights and freedoms of others.
Crime scene management techniques are based on the Locard exchange principle. Those who enter the scene take something from the scene with them and leave something of themselves behind. This means that every contact leaves a trace, no matter how small. That could be:
- shoe brands
Because of the ease with which DNA can be transferred (coughing, sneezing, etc.), special care must be taken with DNA anti-contamination procedures. Force DNA anti-contamination protocols must be followed.
These leads provide valuable material that can tie a suspect to the crime. The recovery techniques for this material are highly specialized and the CSI has the necessary training and equipment to perform them.
Similarly, the movement of police officers or personnel between scenes can contaminate available footage and confuse or mislead investigations. When in doubt, officers should seek advice from CSI or crime scene managers.
For more information seeGuide to DNA contamination at the crime scene.
The investigator should seek the advice of CSIs or managers to determine the appropriate level and method of protection required. This may include covering or lighting the scene and identifying and protecting access routes to or from the scene.
Risks to the scene that may need to be managed include:
- Damage caused by weather influences
- animal disorder
- Disturbance caused by material moving from its original position (e.g. first aid by paramedics)
- microbiological activity that causes the material to decompose
- Disturbance by elements introduced into it
- Interference from the material extracted from it
- Cross-contamination through transmission between scenes
Failure to properly manage scenes can skew initial findings and prolong subsequent efforts to identify perpetrators.
When the media goes to a crime scene, access to the crime scene must be carefully managed, both to protect the crime scene and for health and safety reasons. The investigating officer must decide when to allow access to the crime scene, but in certain circumstances you may wish to contact your press office for advice and assistance. Media access must be under direct police supervision and media representatives must wear safety vests at the crime scene. The media should be encouraged to get the information they want as soon as possible and their equipment, e.g. B. High power lighting should not endanger others.
Search and study of the scene
If necessary, the crime scene must be searched before the investigation. The protection of life always takes precedence over the preservation and recovery of forensic material.
For more information, seesearch strategy.
A full investigation of the scene is essential. Since there is usually only one opportunity to do this, the crime scene investigation should not be rushed unless a delay will lead to the preservation of evidence. Where appropriate, relevant experts should be consulted before starting the review.
Investigators need to be clear about what to expect from investigating a crime scene. This generally includes identifying:
- Material brought by the perpetrator or victim to or from the crime scene
- Access and escape routes to and from the crime scene
- any passive data generators that might be useful for the investigation
On large or complex crime scenes that require multiple crime scene investigators, a crime scene supervisor must play an active role in managing all aspects of the crime scene investigation.
Once the investigation is complete, the investigator should consider releasing the crime scene.
release of the scene
Investigators should not release a crime scene until they are satisfied that all expert advice has been considered and, if necessary, a full and final search has been conducted by a team of Police Investigation Advisors (PolSA).
After the areas covered by the crime scene tents and kick plates have been searched, the crime scene can be cleared and released. In some cases this may be required in cooperation with the local environmental or health agency, for example where chemical or biological substances have been found.