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At 2am I took over the case from the uniform officers. Being an initial investigating officer, I oversees and co-ordinates the case. The aim of the Crime Scene Investigations units is to search for the truth.
The Criminal Procedure and Investigator Act 1996 (CPIA) code of practice section 2.1 defines investigating officer as 'An investigator is any police officer involved in the conduct of a criminal investigation. All investigators have a responsibility for recording information and other material.'
The first officer who arrives at crime scene must take all steps to ensure that the scene will not be disturbed (http://www.scafo.org/library/110503.html). While the scene is cordoned, it should be secured by establishing a restricted parameter and keep the record of logs. The next step is to create a clue of the crime that how it done and the point of entry/exit. The aim is to find what evidence may be present by closely examine and interpretation. When the safe route is determined, it is time to photograph all the evidence and the crime scene area.
The main considerations will be on the 3 Coincidental Elements Method that are Victim, Location and Offender. Can a connection between victim, offender and the scene be discovered?
How did the victim died? The Victim should be identified and find out what he was doing alone at midnight, was he returning from pub/friend house or heading to see someone. Check if the victim has any previous conviction. Check his routine account, lifestyle and who he associates with. What was the victim links to the scene?
Offenders are frequently identified during the initial response stage. Where this is not the case, it is usually possible to infer some characteristics of the offender from the material that is available in the early stages of an investigation. What was his motive, such as robbery, revenge, thrill, planned, jealousy.
Why this location? The locations at which key features of homicides take place, such as the encounter between the victim and the offender, the location of the offence, the body deposition site and places where significant items are disposed of, can all provide valuable material to assist Investigating Officer to make decisions.
Hence, the Investigating officer should assess the number of resources that are needed to successfully complete the initial response and consider fast-track actions. Secure all records made by those involved in the initial response.
The term 'Fast Track Action' defines as "Any investigative actions which, if pursed immediately are likely to establish important facts, preserve evidence or lead to the early resolution of the investigation" -ACPO Murder Investigation Manual 2006a:41. Fast Track Action is done during the initial response stage as investigating officers react to the material (such as fingerprints, blood) that becomes available to them in first 24 hours. Fast-Track can be used for Identifying Suspects, Intelligence Opportunities, Forensics Science, Crime Scene Assessment, Witness Search, Victim Enquiries, Motives, Media, Post-Mortems, Witness Interview, Identify Passive Data Opportunities and Other Critical Actions.
The effective management and supervision is the success of criminal investigation, that is dependent on the following key roles;
Crime Scene Management
The first investigating officer decides whether or not it is a crime scene. Having confirmed the crime scene, the key decision is to be made of its potential to produce the material. This will determine the type of examination that will be required.
The management and analysing of a crime scene are significant to the successful outcome of the investigation. From the Home Office April 2000 review http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ero/details.aspx?seriesid=64444&deliverableUnitId=520&entrypoint=HO/421/2/P2/HMIC/POLLONDN.PDF, "Her Majesty's Inspector notes that for any murder there will be one or more crime scenes; where a murder is committed, where the body is found, the body itself can be considered a scene and any other significant location, such as where a discarded weapon has been found."
The analysis of the scene will evaluate how the victim and offender got in/out from the scene and the nature activity of the scene. The assessment will find any CCTV or other data that may have recorded the scene or any activity occurred for example, withdrawal of cash from ATM. (Criminal Investigation by Stelfox)
The key feature of criminal investigation is witnesses. The success of any homicide investigation depends mostly on the accuracy and detail of the material obtained from witnesses. We can encourage more witnesses to come forward or interview the witnesses to identify the suspect. The two off-duties special constables that were present in the scene will provide information on what they saw on their arrival and what they touched, moved or removed. Officers should set objectives to ensure that the members of the enquiry team, and any other police staff who could have initial contact with witnesses, understand the action expected of them when they encounter a witness.
Officers should think broadly about witness that can be found within the community. Communities might be cultural, religious, sports, occupational, clubs, associations or societies. Advice from members of the community, who are not necessarily witnesses, should be required to help identify the best ways of gaining access to witnesses.
According to Locard's exchange principle, "every contact leaves a trace". This means that any physical contact between individuals, or between an individual and a place or object, invariably results in the transference of traces of physical evidence (page 3, Forensic Science 2nd edition). A comparison between items of trace evidence found from different locations may establish a connection.
Forensic is a key element of the investigating process. The role of forensic is to support the investigation of murder that is established and documented in the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Murder Investigation Manual http://www.acpo.police.uk/documents/crime/2006/2006CBAMIM.pdf. There is continues development in the forensic techniques for the examination and interpretation of evidence, such as fingerprints, blood or any trace from the crime scene.
DNA and fingerprints are most significant samples recovered during an investigation that can be compared to the National DNA Database or to IDENT1, which can find a match. National DNA Database statistics to March 2013 holds 5.9 million DNA profiles and holds 7 million fingerprints (www.homeoffice.gov.uk). Hence, it is important to take the victim's fingerprint for identification, so as other fingerprints found at crime scene are taken to find the suspects. From any trace evidence, the suspects DNA can be found.
The Post-mortem of the victim is used in the investigation of suspicious deaths. Its principal focus on the body of the victim and samples taken from it to assist in examining the scenes of a death. They locate, gather and analyse material that helps to interpret what occurred at a scene, the time and the cause of the victim's death and the type of weapon used in an attack. Forensic pathologist can collect trace material from body that is sent for examination by forensic scientists. (Stelfox)
Effective communication is essential to any homicide investigation. The Investigating Officer is responsible for producing a media strategy and to ensure that they remain in charge of press releases and that the police maintain ownership and control of media issues. Police should cooperate with media to identify victim by putting the victim photo in media ie. TV news channel and newspapers if any recognise him. We should gain more information from press media by giving less information.
Good family liaison is vital to any murder investigation. Families should be seen as partners in an investigation, this concept is central to its success. The trauma associated with a sudden unexpected tragedy will place the family of the victim under immense personal pressures at a time when the needs of the investigation will make heavy demands for detailed information. Ensure that the victim's family are aware of the death and handed to a family liaison officer
Major Incident Rooms
The Major Incident Room (MIR) is the operating centre of any major crime investigation. It houses the SIO, investigating officers and the Home Office Large Major Enquiry System (HOLMES) database. The roles of staff within the MIR are specified within the national Major Investigation Incident Room Standardised Administrative Procedures (MIRSAP) document. All decisions taken will be entered on the HOLMES system and the document will be useful for briefing aid to the investigating team and provides assistance to any subsequent review of the investigation.
Enquiries Officers (House-to-House)
These officers enable investigation to make progress where other techniques have not identified a suspect. ACPO (2006) Practice Advice on House-to-House Enquiries should be read in conjunction. House-to-House is a technique that enables investigators to identify suspects obtaining an account of their movements during relevant time by talking to neighbours, interviewing victim's relatives. It must be conducted thoroughly and recorded accurately.
The identification of victims enables investigators to sort actions which may lead to the early identification of suspects. Reporting the incident and witnesses found at the scene should be interviewed to establish the victim's identity as soon as possible. No attempt should be made to search the victim's clothing for identification evidence as this may destroy other physical evidence which could identify the offender.
As the victim is unidentified, a search of missing person records should be undertaken to establish if any of the descriptions match to the victim. Visible tattoos or other physical features may be used to search local records.
Identify and Arrest Suspects
When homicide is suspected, the identification and arrest of the offender(s) must always be a priority. Offenders may still be at the scene or may return to it during the initial response.
Where suspects have been identified, the arrest should be made by officers who have not visited any scenes that will avoid cross-contamination. If the offender is arrested at the scene by officers who are already there, officers should try to reduce contamination of forensic evidence as much as possible.
Suspect should be narrow down locally with any knife conviction and recorded interview where they were on that day.
Surveillance techniques provides with a range of options for gathering material on suspects, witnesses and locations. It is used in homicide investigation once suspects have been identified. Surveillance can assist in identifying or eliminating suspects, identifying the suspect's associates and providing information on their habits and lifestyle. They can also be used to monitor significant locations to identify witnesses.
Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) can provide material of substantial value to homicide investigations, mostly in organised crime cases and where unplanned homicide is committed in the course of another crime.
In conclusion, Investigating Officer should review overall strengths of the case and take action what is known or not known, whether sufficient evidence exists against the offender to proceed to charge and set an objectives for a reconstruction to create hypothesis.