Investigating the crime scene thoroughly is one of the critical approaches to a successful investigation. We can refer to it as successful only if it follows certain principles and procedures. Crime Scene investigation is more often also termed a systematic process.
A crime scene investigator or the responsible expert might have their ways of investigating the scene and giving their opinions. Still, there are specific procedures that each of them follows. For example, the crime scene of Arson will always differ from a crime scene of a homicide, but the rules and disciplines of approach will always be the same around whatsoever crime scene we are investigating.
Techniques Used in Crime Scene Investigation
1. Identify Scene Dimensions
- ∙Locate The Focal Point Of The Scene:- To start the investigation, we must identify the focal point so that we will not contaminate any significant evidence due to negligence and initiate the investigation smoothly.
- Establishing a Perimeter Large Enough To Contain Evidence:- In a crime scene, the perimeter is critical as there are techniques and division of workforce addressed after deciding how much work is needed to be done here with what are the possible responsibilities one should indulge in collecting most of the evidence found in the scene.
2. Establish Security
- Tape Around The Perimeter:- During a crime, there are people around, locals, press, and media who gather while an ongoing investigation is going on. To avoid any rush or contamination of evidence from the other sources investigator always creates a perimeter and puts tape against it. This also helps to keep in the log of the people who enter and exit the crime scene.
- Use Security Guards to Constrain People:- In high-profile cases, people get very excited and cautious to know the things going on, even the media. In such cases, we need high security so that the investigator can work properly. While in cases of burglary, for example, or indoor crimes, we do not need that much security as the investigation will undergo inside. This is important for the investigator to inform police personnel about the protection they need to work correctly.
3. Create A Plan And Communicate
- Determine The Type of Crime That Occurred:– Though is it always advised not to conclude the case with probabilities until the proper report arises with a lot of gained experience, the investigators identify the crime most probably has occurred and decide what the evidence is so they can look in the crime scene for particular pieces of evidence.
- Identify Any Threats to Evidence:– The fieldwork should be quick and detailed if there are possibilities of weather change that can manipulate the evidence and will be left of no use in the investigation. If there is a weather change in an ongoing investigation at the crime scene, the investigator should plan to protect the evidence.
- Consider Additional Resources If Necessary– It often discover unexpected things at the crime scene. The investigator reconsiders the plans and asks for the resources to investigate the crime scene as required.
- Communicate With Your Team About How To Proceed– The investigator should acquire the leadership skills and communicate the plans they are planning. It will help to know the other ideas and views of the team toward the scene. Discussing the necessary ideas ease, the investigation and distribution of the workload appropriately.
4. Conduct A Primary Survey
- Identify Potential Evidence:– Crime scenes are usually filled with craps and proof. Considering which will be helpful and which are already tampered with can help with the idea of initiating to collect the evidence specifically.
- Capture Photographs And Take Notes:- A case might be reviewed years later. Due to this, the case file containing notes and photographs should be in such a way that tells the story of the crime scene.
5. Documentation Of Crime Scene
- Using The Plan From Step Three, Begin Processing The Scene:- There are experts in the team who are appointed to take notes of the visuals of the crime scene, including the testimonies of the people who have witnessed the crime.
- Collect All Evidence And Keep Detailed Documentation:- How the evidence was found? What is trace evidence we have got from it? What kind of methods have you used to collect the evidence? What was the condition when it was found? All these questions’ answers are essential to be noted.
- It is imperative to follow proper procedures for the collection so that none of the evidence is destroyed or contaminated
6. Conduct A Secondary Survey
Conduct Walkthrough To Ensure Everything Has Been Processed And Recorded:- Once the primary survey is done and all the evidence is collected, take a secondary survey similar to the last-minute check so that nothing is left out. This is very important to check every corner keenly so that nothing gets missed out. Investigator rechecks everything before leaving the crime scene to ensure all the tasks appointed are completed responsibly.
7. Record And Preserve Crime Scene
- Use An Inventory Log To Account For All Evidence:– Inventory log means who had discovered the crime scene or evidence before collection and informed the police; all these details can be used for further investigation in a court of law.
- Create Thorough Descriptions That Match Photographs Taken at The Scene:- A picture until and unless explained adequately might misguide the observer until and unless explained briefly. So, it is necessary to explain each of the photographs.
- Follow a Transparent Chain Of Custody Throughout The Investigation:– One of the most important steps is to follow a proper chain of custody of every piece of evidence acquired from the crime scene. A slight mishandling can make the offender walk free from the crime.
Crime Scene Investigation is very risky and important among all the work that we do in the investigation because you don’t know if the perpetrator is waiting for you at the crime scene to commit his/her next actions on the law and order. The investigator needs to take precautions for all of the possibilities that he/she can face in an ongoing investigation.
The things we learn and watch in series are different from the crime scene we approach. Once it is said that “the only thing that is consistent in crime is its inconsistency”.
In countries like India, we experience all types of tropical weather with a population of 138 crores whereas we do live with a variety of people with a diversity of religions, cultures, thoughts, languages, etc. Investigators should keep the mindset of all possibilities that can happen at the crime scene. Just a small miscommunication among the people can initiate the outrage of tension among themselves and destroy your crime scene. Certainly, you will be left with no evidence. With experience in time, investigators learn to control these situations and work efficiently at the crime scene.
Let us know what you think of these techniques followed during the investigation!