Crime scene investigation can be compared to solving a puzzle, where the investigators’ scope is to acquire all the missing pieces. Investigators have challenging and complex roles and their skills and the way they manage them lead them to discovering the right answer in a criminal case. In this scenario, the facts may be easily analysed so the crime scene examination would conclude faster and efficiently. In order to achieve this, investigators’ duty would be to manage their time, know their responsibilities, collect evidence and assemble crime site’s features, following a set of rules. They should also conduct inquiries to find out who committed the crime and interview witnesses and the suspects responsible for the unfortunate incident happening– a terrifying car accident in a summer evening, outdone by some shocking aspects.
Firstly, in order to handle the crime examination properly scene officers should follow the ‘ABC’ Rule which derives from:
A- Assume nothing,
B- Believe nothing and
C- Challenge/check everything
(Cook and Tattersall, 2016, p.33).
Cook and Tattersall (2016) define a good Senior Office Investigator as a sceptical person who checks and challenges the relevance, reliability and precision of information collected. At first glance, the scenario presents significant information which might be described as the key aspect in detecting this felony’s pattern, such as a Gay Pride Festival in progress, a car crash, a four-foot sword, a box like gadget with wires and the timing. Considering the existing possibilities, the crime scene’s scenario might correspond with a hate crime, or an attempted one. A hate crime refers to a crime that is motivated by hostility and prejudice. It depends on five checked elements: disability, race, religion, sexual orientation and transgender (College of Policing, 2014). Judging by the kind of festival that was in progress, investigators might consider this crime nature as a homophobic one.
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Investigators might deal with this incident by using the most substantial factors in solving this felony – time and strategy. The setting provides officers with the opportunity to act as quickly as possible; their primary concern should be based on the amount of time that has passed since the crime was committed. The “golden hour” principle comes from a medical occupation and it refers to the value of time for patients who are promptly taken care of (Cook and Tattersall, 2016, p.71). For example, Cook and Tattersall(2016) state that the golden hour is the time when witnesses are the most likely to cooperate, evidence is still fresh and untouched, suspects are most vulnerable, and crimes can be rapidly resolved. Applying this theory on what it seems to be a hate crime, officers should firstly focus on the box like gadget with cables coming from it. The device could turn up to be a bomb and it could also hurt the people that gathered near the car. Secondly, the man and the woman should receive medical assistance and as soon as it is safe for the officers to request testimonies, the two main suspects might offer the key information for this investigation.
Five Building Blocks
There is also the “Five Building Blocks” principle that supports the early phases of an investigation–
- preserving life,
- preserving scenes,
- securing evidence,
- identifying victims
- identifying suspects
Collecting and preserving evidence can be made possible by investigators keeping the concert spectators and the people present at the scene away from the car. The four-foot sword may provide the team with DNA, suspects’ origins and motives. The way this time is consumed reflects officers’ skills and abilities to cope with a situation of this kind.
Classification of the Crime
Another point worth mentioning would be finding out what is the class and the expected extent of the crime scene examination based on the claims of the issue. The scenario can be classified as a hate crime due to the character of the incident and its hypotheses. Investigators might link the car crash, the sword and the box like device with wires with the Gay Pride Festival being in progress, this resulting in an attempt of a hate crime driven by homophobia. By going further with the investigation, officers could collect suspects’ declarations in order to find their initial motives. The likely scope of the investigation may be connecting all the evidence and crime scene’s aspects in the interest of gaining all the needed details and solving the crime. For example, a case study on a hate crime committed against sexual orientation is Ian Baynham’s case who was attacked in Trafalgar Square, 2009 by a group of young people and one of them repeatedly mentioned his sexual preferences. Ian was severely beaten and died soon after due to his injuries. Two of the offenders were later found guilty of manslaughter but the case weakened the apparent safety of gay people all over the country (College of Policing, 2014).
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Therefore, the investigators should conduct the crime scene investigation by following a set of rules and respecting their certain roles. ‘The role of the SIO in a homicide investigation is potentially one of the most complex and challenging positions within the Police Service. It combines two elements, i.e., the role of investigator and the role of manager, each of which must be performed to the highest standards’ (Association of Chief Police Officers,2006, p.26). According to ACPO (2006), a Senior Investigator Officer is required to have some specific abilities as a result of the fact that in many cases, the material is unclear and restrained. Also, the SIO must have knowledge of the law and the circumstances in which crimes are committed and different capacities that may help them complete their responsibilities. Not only the Senior Investigator Officer, but also the other officers that are present at the crime scene, are accountable for their actions, which are key factors in getting to the bottom of the initial scenario. Cook and Tattersall (2016) believe that teamwork has a great importance in an investigation and a troupe of experts can work together to find a successful and valuable solution. “Each role and stage of the process connects in a chain that is only as strong as its weakest link. An SIO is not likely to be involved initially, but as soon as they are, they must set the tone for a teamwork approach by leading, managing and coordinating activity” (Cook and Tattersall, 2016, p.71). In addition to that, the material is a crucial aspect in properly conducting the crime scene examination and it is defined by any type of evidence found or that can be relevant during an investigation.
Investigators duty is also to gather all the information needed for the investigation to conclude efficiently. The material should be significant for the crime scene examination and obtained by the investigator from different sources, such as: crime scene, suspects, victims, witnesses, CCTV, telephone records, banking and credit card records. Material may come in many formats whether they are fingerprints, statements, or audio and video recordings. In this case, the largest part of the investigation’s material might be the statements since the main suspects can be easily identified and there is a considerable group of witnesses. The man and the woman involved in the Blue Renault Megane hitting the lamp post could still be conscious and by applying the “golden hour” principle, officers might demolish their false alibies and find the most unaffected version of their story. The potential witnesses, the people nearby and the security staff from the Arena should be interviewed, investigators then checking their sources and establishing which one is related to the investigation. The witnesses will possibly be more cooperative if the investigators act quickly. Also, there is a strong probability of CCTV material being a vast amount of information, as the incident location, Coventry Arena, should be provided with an advanced surveillance system. The physical evidence, the box-like device, the sword and the car may provide investigators with suspects’ fingerprints, documents or any other substantial information as soon as it is suitably analysed and inspected. “The SIO must have effective management systems in place to ensure that all the material gathered by the investigation is recorded, analysed and stored appropriately. In particular, the system should enable the SIO to assimilate material into their knowledge of the incident and to make effective decisions about how it can best be used to progress the investigation” (ACPO, 2006, p.44).
Moreover, witnesses’ administration might turn out to be vital in a criminal investigation and the methods in which investigators approach them points to finding essential evidence for the case. Cook and Tattersall (2016) describe the ‘witness’ term as being related to anybody, excluding the suspects, who can present evidence at court. Witnesses management remains a complex process which includes the way witnesses should be found, treated, protected and categorised. For this specific examination, the potential witnesses that may be there are not only the people nearby and the security personnel from the Arena but also anybody who met, saw and talked with the man and the woman in the blue Renault Megane. They stand for the central source of testimonies and evidence. Investigators should interview the suspects and apply “witness interview strategies”(Cook and Tattersall, 2016, p.320) in order to obtain the required material and build the case. Firstly, witnesses should be classified and then the initial contact can be made by using specific methods to gather key proof of what really happened. However, witnesses may be uncooperative and quiet during an interview, this being a dangerous factor in the evidence collection process. Despite this unfortunate fact, an interviewer should act properly and stop the witness from failing in offering the correct information. “Witnesses and, especially, victims are often asked to describe unpleasant or traumatic experiences to a police officer they have never met before. Moreover, the police investigator often appears as an official government agent, carrying a gun and wearing a formal uniform. To be effective, police must establish personal rapport with victims/witnesses.( Fisher, Milne and Bull,2011).
The timescales and duration of an investigation might differ depending on the way investigators manage time, witnesses’ level of cooperation, the amount of evidence that turns out to be a trustworthy source and the type of case. In this scenario, officers might deal with a major incident, this leading to the necessity of acting rapidly and professionally in order to achieve the wanted answer. Considering the large group of witnesses and the potential suspects, investigative interviewing might take a little longer since officers’ duty is to collect any kind of information but also reorganize the useful and reliable material. There is also the examination of the found objects – a sword, a square-like gadget with cables coming from it and a blue Renault Megane; which might offer investigators crucial evidence. The great quantity of crime scene’s features this scenario provides officers with, could result in a shorter time period in which the problem can be solved.
Barriers to Investigation
Investigators might face some potential barriers in obtaining the crucial information for this case, such as false testimonies, uncooperative witnesses, absent DNA, contamination of the crime scene and so on. They should deal with each type of barrier by overcoming dead-ends and searching for further details regarding the crime scene examination. Even though some obstacles may appear, the sources of information present in the case are numerous. For example, the time, location and in-progress event points to crime motive and class, the large group of witnesses stands for testimonies and different version of the same story, the man and the woman represent the main suspects, the car is reliable physical evidence and both the sword and box-like device with wires( which may be associated with a bomb) might correspond to the crime weapon. All the sources could be included by the investigators in the prosecution file if there is enough evidence to provide a credible view of a guilty verdict against each offender on each accusation.
Finally, the scenario reproduces an attempted hate crime, in which the information is clearly presented, designed for investigators to operate their skills and experiences in order to solve the problem and find all the lost fragments of the story. Officers should act quickly and efficiently, gather all the required material and examine methodically each uncovered data concerning the case.
- ACPO (2006) Murder Investigation Manual, NCPE, [online] Available at: http://library.college.police.uk/docs/APPREF/murder-investigation-manual-redacted.pdf Accessed: [7 Jan. 2019]
- College of Policing ( 2014) Hate Crime Operational Guidance, , [online] Available at: http://library.college.police.uk/docs/college-of-policing/Hate-Crime-Operational-Guidance.pdf Accessed: [7 Jan. 2019].
- Cook, T. and Tattersall, A. (2016). Blackstone’s Senior Investigating Officers Handbook. 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.33, 71, 320.
- Fisher, R., Milne, R. and Bull, R. (2011). Interviewing Cooperative Witnesses. Current Directions in Psychological Science, [online] 20(1), pp.16-19. Available at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/146135579900100208 Accessed: [7 Jan. 2019].
- College of Policing (2018). Investigation process. [online] Available at: https://www.app.college.police.uk/app-content/investigations/investigation-process/?highlight=major%20incident%20investigation?s=major+incident+investigation Accessed: [7 Jan. 2019].
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