the scene is a very straightforward and obvious step
in the course of a crime. Summarised below are the basic
procedures taken at the crime scene for purposes of
both efficiency and accuracy.
Select one of the following for
crimes are discovered
at the scene of crime
extent of the crime
Crimes Are Discovered
can discover crime scenes in a number of different
ways. Most likely, the authorities have been informed
by an everyday citizen who may have seen or heard
something unusual/strange occurring and decided
to report it, however police officers also come
across crime scenes whilst on patrol in their
designated area. Whether it is a police officer
or a 911 assistant who answers the emergency calls,
the details of the potential crime scene are recorded
and patrolling officers closest to the scene are
arranged to head over to the situation.
officers are always alert for signs of crime.
Photo courtesy of www.freefoto.com.
At The Scene Of Crime
officials arrive at the scene of crime, the first
and foremost priority of a police officer is to
assist or preserve the life of the victim (if
one is present), making sure that he/she is not
exposed to any danger. The officer does however,
have to ensure that his/her own safety is not
endangered during this process. They are then
to alert senior investigating officers, reporting
on the situation of the crime scene and subsequently
notify ambulances and the fire department if necessary.
The time of arrival on the scene must essentially
be noted down as well as all other significant
observations. Whilst doing all this, the officer
must take care not to touch or move anything.
Emergency vehicles will arrive with more than
one officer, allowing procedures to be carried
out much more efficiently and precisely. Photo
courtesy of www.morguefile.com.
Extent of the Crime
|Officers must also assess
the extent of the crime scene, which is the stretch
of area in which the crime took place and may include
more than one section. For example, in the case of a
murder, there may be evidence not only where the murder
was committed, but also in other parts of the murder
environment and the scene where the corpse is found
may not correspond to the actual scene of murder. If
the body were transported elsewhere, then the mode of
transport and the other locations would also become
a significant part of the investigation.
the crime scene is ultimately essential to protect any
evidence it contains, for the more people that visit
the crime scene, the more difficult it becomes for investigators.
Not only does sealing the scene preserve important evidence,
but it also helps in the identification of potential
suspects/witnesses by eliminating the possibility of
these people leaving/entering before officials have
the scene fully detailed. The section that has to be
sealed depends on the individual crime and the crime
environment, but the sealed off area should be big enough
to enclose not only the immediate area of the crime,
but also the points of possible entry and exit.
The section then becomes
accessible only to the relevant personnel involved
with the case. This method makes it much easier to
manage the crime scene, as it provides a protected
zone for incident vehicles and also for dealing with
the media. To prevent evidence contamination, personnel
numbers are kept to a minimum at the scene of the
crime and only one entry and exit access point is
established to be utilised by all forensic and scene
investigators. A log of everyone who visits the scene
is kept, including arrival and departure times and
any evidence shifted/taken from its original place.
This is to ensure that 'evidence tampering' does not
become an issue while in court.
If there were one thing that television portrays most
accurately, it would be the use of a simple white cloth
to cover the victim's body.
Witnesses and Suspects
and suspects are detained and removed from the scene
by police officers to be searched and questioned. Their
condition, statements and behaviour are all documented
for further analysis later into the investigation. The
police must also ensure that suspects are not allowed
to return to the scene of the crime before it has fully
documented, in order to prevent 'evidence tampering'.
Suspects may be held at the police station for a certain
period of time (varying for each state) during which
the scene is analysed and sealed off. At the same time
witnesses at the scene are detained and separated from
one another up until they have given statements and
it is then at this point, that witnesses are free to
go. This procedure is put in place to prevent the witnesses
discussing what they each saw and prevents one's recollections
of the incident being influenced by the ideas of another.