Terms in this set (19)
All major investigations are likely to involve some level of search aimed at identifying possible crime scenes, finding evidential material that could lead to the identification of suspects and witnesses or link suspects, witnesses and victims to locations or objects that are significant to the investigation.
Development of a search strategy
Development of a search strategy consists of the following elements:
• Risk assessment;
• Health, safety and welfare;
• The legal powers for search;
• Search objectives;
• Search priorities (e.g. different scenes);
• Search parameters.
Implementation of search strategy
Having developed the strategy then it will need to be implemented having regard to:
• Resource requirements;
• Search methods;
• Briefing search teams;
• Media management.
Where a search is likely to be complex or extensive SIOs should seek the advice of
a Police Search Advisor (PoLSA). Where numerous searches are necessary, more than one PoLSA may be required and a PoLSA coordinator should be appointed. PoLSAs play a pivotal role in advising SIOs on the use of search tactics likely to produce a successful outcome.
The need to preserve life;
The need to protect the public / police;
The immediate pursuit of a suspect(s);
The likelihood of destruction, damage or disposal of material caused by the weather or other interference;
The likelihood that recovering material will expedite the enquiry
Health, safety and welfare
- The threat from any environmental hazards (e.g., water, weather, noxious substances, confined spaces, heights, railways);
- The allocation of appropriate equipment (PPE) to search personnel;
- The requirement for the provision of refreshments, rest areas etc.
- Associated risk management through the deployment of untrained personnel.
Legal powers of a search
- The majority of searches can and will be carried out with the owner's consent especially in major investigations, however reasons for searching should be explained to people in control of the premises.
- Where appropriate legal powers are available for searching;
- Search without warrant - secs 17, 18 or 32 of PACE;
- Search with warrant under sec 8 of PaCE.
Access and egress routes, or evidence to establish such routes (footmarks, tyre marks, etc)
Other scenes (including residences, workplaces and vehicles);
Physical evidence (forensic /fingerprints);
Property abandoned by offender or victim;
Passive data generators (telephones, computers, diaries, financial information, lifestyle information inc. membership cards and association literature).
More than one scene?
- SIO will usually have to decide the
priority of scene searches.
- Such decisions should take account of:
- Number of scenes to be searched;
- Size of the scenes;
- Resource constraints / implications;
- Likelihood of recovering evidence;
- The initial search risk assessment.
PARAMETER - a limit or boundary which defines the scope of a particular process or activity.
SIOs should identify the search parameters. Where there is a lack of specific information or intelligence on which to base such a judgement, the principle of the 'ripple effect', i.e. beginning a speculative search from a known or clearly defined scene and working outwards is accepted practice..
This could be in a murder investigation the body discovery scene.
The resource requirement for a search will clearly be determined by its objectives,
parameters and the search methods to be employed.
SIOs need to consider whether the search can be managed solely by the investigation enquiry team or whether additional resources are required.
Additional resources may include:
Further police staff;
Specialist police resources (e.g., drugs or explosives dogs, underwater search);
Technical (e.g. computer experts);
Mountain Rescue Teams;
Royal Air Force (Air and Sea Rescue);
Members of the public.
SIOs must be aware of their 'duty of care' towards anyone engaged in searching on behalf of the police.
- Initial visual check;
- Non-specialist search;
- Specialist search
Briefing search teams
Search teams must be properly briefed about any investigative hypothesis and the action that should be taken in the event of material being discovered. Where supporting intelligence exists, it is essential that search teams are furnished with as much detail as possible so that the most appropriate techniques can be used to maximise the potential for success.
Search teams: in the event of material being found
Search teams must be given clear directions about what to do in the event of material being found. Including:
What to seize;
What not to seize;
Those who undertake the seizure;
What should be examined in situ;
Recording finds and seizure.
Protecting the integrity of the evidential chain is essential
Most major investigations will attract significant media interest so it is important for the SIO to record and where appropriate disclose the rationale for searching or not searching a specific area.
A misinformed public and media can lose confidence in the police when the rationale behind perceived police inactivity is undeclared. This is particularly important when a scene is 'retained' for an extended period of time.
Initial visual check
The purpose of an initial visual check is to provide a quick overview of the area and locate any obvious material of relevance. It is used at the beginning of a search when resources may be limited or when it is essential to find material quickly for the investigation.
The use of this technique does not negate the need for a more detailed search.
A non-specialist search is a search conducted by personnel who have not been trained by the Police National Search Centre.
The majority of searches fall within this category.
A specialist search is used where a higher degree of confidence is required or necessary or the search areas require specialist equipment and training. There are two categories:
- Specialist Search Assets - these are police resources that have successfully completed an ACPO / NPCC recognised licensing / accreditation system. E.g. police dogs, underwater search units.
- Specialist Search Trained - these personnel have either been trained or are recognised as such by the Police National Search Centre.
Records of search
Record of searches must be kept & should include:-
Areas searched & level of intrusion
Identification of individuals conducting
Search techniques / equipment used
Duration of search
Significant material found
Material seized - labelled etc
Any Damage caused
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