Back in May I wrote a post on the working relationships of police officers and stated that it would be the first in a series of posts on policing. I haven’t yet followed up on that. This is now that second post. And from now on, I shall try to be a bit more regular with these kinds of posts because I know that one was popular. You can find it Here if you didn’t read it.
Today I’m going to look at crime scenes. Now crime scenes are a large area to cover, in terms of what you’re looking at if you’re attending one (therefore wanting to know about if writing crime) so this post will get split up into a couple of posts so as not to drag on. I’d rather give you bite-sized posts that are easily taken on board than throw a lot of info at you that will just turn to mush inside your head.
Usually, the first person at the scene of an incident is the uniform officer. They’re your front line. Your first port of call. You don’t know you have a murder unless someone goes to look first. Unless of course someone phones in to say ‘I’ve just murdered so-and-so and his head is hanging off because I used my chainsaw on his neck.’ But then the fastest person there is still going to be your uniform officer.
Also, notice I said incident and not crime. It may well look like a suicide, for example, a hanging, but you still need to have a look at it properly – get CSI’s out to check the scene, to make sure it is what it looks like.
But, if you suspect it’s a suspicious death or outright murder, then the right people are called to the scene and that’s where you choose what you call your team who are going to investigate (if you’re writing) because it’s different in every force. In the UK, we do use the word homicide unit rather than murder though.
So, you do suspect it to be murder, what does the uniform officer do while waiting for their plain clothes colleagues?
- Make sure the person is definitely dead first! It’s ok to go into the crime scene to save life.
- Then, don’t touch anything.
- Close the crime scene and make it as wide as you think is necessary. It can always be brought in later. Think about entry and exit routes from the scene. Think about where an offender may have parked a car. Think about a bit of privacy for your victim if they are out in an open area because don’t forget you are not touching anything so your victim could be in an exposed place being gawped at and, equally, distressing other people. You can NOT cover them up. You’d be transferring fibres onto them and possibly taking away evidence when you remove whatever it is you cover them up with. Better to contain rather than miss anything.
- Start a scene log (logging people in and out and what time) and don’t let anyone into the scene unless they need to be in. Think of the above re; exit and entry, if you need to cover these to prevent other people contaminating your scene by walking into it, then cover them.
- If there are any potential witnesses lurking, grab and detain. (You will hopefully not be alone by now and these tasks are all shared out) If they’re adamant they won’t stay, obtain their details and try and confirm they are giving you the right details. (driving license etc).
- All the while you are updating the control room (inspector) who is getting everyone necessary to you.
So, that’s a fair bit of information for just arriving at a crime scene. My next post will be on what the homicide team’s thoughts will be when they get there.
If you have anything you want to see covered in this series, then please let me know. I have a few questions already waiting that writing friends have asked in the past but I’m open to more.