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When a crime is committed it is the aim of the law
enforcement to investigate the truth in to what happened and obtain justice for
the victims affected by the incident. In order for this to be achieved,
departments, such as Police Officers, Crime Scene Investigators and Fire
Officers, must work together to a high standard of professionalism in order to
ensure that evidence is adequately collected from the crime scene and follows
the correct protocol in the aim of a just prosecution from the courts. Using a
recently reported crime the following will explore the complexities involved in
Crime Scene Investigation and the roles and responsibilities required by Investigators.

On Thursday 14th September 2017, a homeowner
returned to his home to discover that there had been forced entry on the front
entrance to the property. It was then that the man was confronted by the
intruder, who upon threatening with a knife, allowed him to flee. Despite this
the offender who was partially disguising his face had turned and stabbed the
victim in the thigh, which would alter require medical treatment. Along with
the knife crime the intruder was able to steal £310 from the property. Following
the report of the crime, appropriate emergency service will have been sent to
the scene, in this case we would have police and paramedic services. The police
officer to attend the scene is known as the First Officer Attending (FOA), The
FOA will assess the situation of the scene and deal with any required
emergencies, with our scene this would mean attending to the victim’s wounds
before paramedics arrive on scene, and ensuring that the scene is safe. During
this process the FOA should take note of any movement from the victims or
objects and report it to the arrival of the Crime Scene Investigator. During
this time, it is important for the crime scene to preserved in order to keep
the integrity and avoid contamination of any evidence that would be at the
home. This usually involves the setting up of a barrier (made from crime scene
tape, police officer or even vehicles) to cordon off the scene in order to
prevent any unauthorised access. To control this there is usually just once
access point (common approach path) through the barrier which is monitored
through the use of a log which will take note of the time any personnel enter
or exit through the cordon. In the case of the crime committed on 14th
September, the cordon could likely be placed just away from the property, extended
from the front garden (if there is one available as a guide), this gives enough
space to work and analyse the possibly of evidence being outside of the property.

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When the scene is deemed to be safe it is then that Crime
Scene Investigators can be contacted. Before leaving the police station the
Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) will check on what type of crime that they are
attending. This ensures that they are able to have suitable equipment for the
required crime scene. According to Pepper, I. (2010) “When a CSI first arrives
at the scene of a burglary or theft, he or she must identify himself/herself to
the injured party… The CSI must explain his/her role to the injured party,
which is to examine the scene for any evidence that may assist the enquiry”.
From this they must gather as much information as possible to assist them when
further investigating the scene. When entering a crime scene, the CSI is
required to wear protective clothing that involves a white coverall, overshoes blue
latex gloves which are double gloved, and if required a face mask and safety
goggles. This equipment allows the investigator to process the scene without
contaminating evidence with their own DNA. When entering the scene, the investigator
will follow the common approach path (CAP) up to the property. It is here that
they will examine the point of entry to scene. This is where the offender will
have gained access to the property and it can be determined if force was used.
In our case above, the victim had come home to find the entrance to their home
forced open. The CSI attending can then photograph the offenders access making
note of any damage caused to the door and determine if any instruments were
used to gain access. Depending on weather conditions the CSI may need to
consider the preservation of any footwear marks that could have been left
during the assailants’ escape. From there the investigator will move further
into the interior of the property and begin to analyse the scene in a controlled
and systematic way, moving around the room in a clockwise or anti-clockwise maneuverer
as such no to miss any critical evidence.

During this process the CSI will photograph and collected any
evidence they believe to be necessary in their investigation. Photographing
will be the first objective used as this preserves the scene at the time of the
incident, they’ll do this part taking photographs of each corner of the room,
and then proceed on to photographing any evidence. After this any suspicious items
that may need analysed will be collected from the scene and packaged appropriately.
Clothes will be packaged in to brown paper bags separately from one another,
and if bloodstained need to be dried before packaged. Weapons are placed in
sharp tube to ensure they are safe from damage and hurting the officers, and
any blood will be swabbed into vials and packaged together with control samples.
Any evidence that contains blood should be sealed with biohazard tape as a safety
measure for anyone that will come into contact with the DNA, this includes
swabs, clothes and weapons. Any fibre or paint evidence (and fingerprints which
are collected later in process) is packaged in to clear polythene bags, which
are folded at the top and sealed to preserve the chain of evidence and ensure
that there is no contamination once it has been collected. Once the CSI is
confident that they have collected and photographed everything that is needed,
they can progress on to fingerprinting the scene. Something that should always
been last as a preventative measure of contamination. Fingerprints are a unique
to every individual and can be an important identifying tool, when trying to
capture an offender. There are two types of fingerprints that can be
encountered at a scene, these are visible and latent. Visible prints can be found
more easily and are usually left on objects that can leave impression such as blood,
while latent prints require a more thorough look at the scene. Latent prints
are discovered through the use of powders, which come in two types; granular
and flake powders. The powder is softly applied to the surface using a brush
where the powder is able to attach itself to the bodily oils that are left
behind to create a fingerprint. Granular powders are best suited for matt and
weathered surfaces, while flake powders and best for smooth surfaces such as
glass and mirrors. Depending on what type of powder you used, you then need to
lift the print using either J-Lar tape (flake) or a Gel lift (granular) and then
placed on to a cobex sheet and sealed in a polythene bag for preservation. As
with all evidence collected it is of great importance that each piece is
correctly labelled, and displays; the name of the CSI that recovered the
evidence, the date that it was recovered, the location it was found and an identifying
mark. Failure to package or label evidence adequately can lead to scrutiny when
used against as suspect in court, and possible lead to offender not being prosecuted.
Applying that knowledge to the case that happened on 14th September,
CSI’s will have followed protocol and utilised the CAP to a scene and analysed
the point of entry, where they could assess how the assailant may have gained
entry and possibly recovered the tool used. With the case being a burglary, the
CSI’s were not looking for any suspicious items such as drugs, but will have
collected the weapon used on the victim and packaged it into a sharps tube with
biohazard tape and any clothing fibres that may have been left behind. They
will have then figure printed the property with the idea that the offender has
interacted with items and left his prints behind at the scene.

As a Crime Scene Investigator there are certain roles and responsibilities
that they must follow in order to adequality and profession do their job to the
standard that is expected of them. Pepper (2010) described, using a report from
the Association of Chief Police Officers and Forensic Science Service, that the
roles required by a CSI are “Photography or video photography at scenes of crime,
victims and property. Search for and recovery of physical evidence. Detection
and recovery of fingerprints… Packaging and storage of physical evidence
preventing contamination. Maintenance of intelligence indices on modus operandi”
(A particular method) “Provision of advice on scientific matters, and preparation
of statements and giving evidence in court.” This gives the CSI a wide range of
roles within the criminal justice practice. The evidence that they collect is
often an integral part of the prosecution in a case and as such it is the
investigators responsibility to ensure that the evidence was gathered legally
and correctly without contamination that could cause doubt against the prosecution.
This applies to every piece of evidence gathered and can be extended to what
they may have missed at a scene if it was not analysed carefully and with enough
depth. As well as just gathering evidence it is important that the CSI makes contemporaneous
notes during their investigation as this will aid them during the required reports
that will be looked at and question during the court process. In these reports
it is important that every detail in remembered and explained in the correct
order. For example, if in the report the CSI says they fingerprinted the scene
and then collected another piece of evidence such as a knife, then the defence
can put across the idea that the knife had been contaminated with fingerprint
powder and therefore can not be trusted as a piece of evidence, even if everything
was done correctly at the time of the scene. As a way to ensure that CSI’s are
working to an appropriate degree of standards, many agencies aim for
accreditation to international standards and follow the protocols of ISO 17020
and ISO 17025. These standards assess the operating capability of a forensic
agency and ensure they are working to an appropriate degree of professionality.
ISO 17020 monitors the standards and requirements for the operation of various
types of bodies performing inspection, and covers the CSI when they are in
field gathering and preserving evidence and focuses on impartiality, independence
and confidentiality. While 17025 aims for the competence of testing and calibration
laboratories which bases its requirements on analytical validation and is designed
for laboratory-based work. The importance of upholding these standards shows
that the work by these CSI’s is of a high standard and meets the needs required.

In conclusion the complexities of crime scene investigation
have been explored an applied to a recent and local case the occurred in
Carlisle on the 14th September 2017 and included an examination
strategy for the scene while detailing the techniques and practices used by crime
scene investigators when attending the scene of a crime such as what is
involved when processing the scene, how evidence is packaged and when fingerprints
are collected and what roles and responsibilities that they aim to uphold while
adhering to the international standards set by the Forensic Science Regulator ISO
17020 and ISO 17025, and the possible downfall of those standards not being met
when in a court environment during the prosecution process.