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SIO Corner: Definitions & Key Skills

This week we examine what we understand by the 'SIO' and look at the role and the key skills

In this series we will look at various aspects of life as an SIO. This includes the necessary skill sets for the successful SIO, the management of serious crime investigation and specific elements of investigative practice from initial response through crime scene examination and investigative strategies to dealing with suspects and the media. The articles are excerpts from the 2nd edition of Blackstone's, the 'Senior Investigating Officers' Handbook', written by two highly experienced SIOs (see 'About the Authors' at the end of the article).

|STARTHTML|Definitions of SIO Role and Key Skill Area|ENDHTML|

The Murder Investigation Manual, or ‘MIM’ (NCPE (2006), 25–6), states:
An SIO is the lead investigator in cases of homicide, stranger rape, kidnap or other investigations.

This requires the SIO to:
- Perform the role of officer in charge of an investigation as described in the Code of Practice under Part II of the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996.
- Develop and implement the investigative strategy.
- Develop the information management and decision-making systems for the investigation.
- Manage the resources allocated to the investigation.
- Be accountable to chief officers for the conduct of the investigation.

The role of the SIO in a homicide investigation is potentially one of the most complex and challenging positions within the police service. It combines two elements—the role of investigator and the role of manager, each of which must be performed to the highest standards.
As indicated in this definition, SIOs are appointed to deal with all manner of criminality, not just homicide. Incidents such as ‘fail to stop’ road traffic collisions are often SIO led, requiring essentially the same skills plus extra specialist knowledge.

Any crime that involves a degree of complexity may attract the appointment of an SIO. The list is not exhaustive and could include murder and attempted murder, child abuse, arson, corporate manslaughter (eg the Hillsborough football stadium disaster in South Yorkshire in 1989), terrorism, missing person enquiries, kidnap, abduction, blackmail, serious and organized crime, robbery, aggravated burglary, high-value thefts, Health and Safety Executive investigations, mass public disorder, linked serious crimes, hate crime, drugs and people trafficking, critical incidents, or anything that might attract a high level of media attention.

The SIO role is not restricted to the police service and can be used by other bodies such as the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the Serious Fraud Office, the Department of Trade and Industry, or the Serious and Organized Crime Agency.

|STARTHTML|Role under the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act|ENDHTML|

There are added responsibilities contained within the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (CPIA) which deal with criminal investigations. The Act sets out duties for the SIO (and police in general) not simply in relation to disclosure but also in respect of the investigation itself. Section 23 refers to the treatment and retention of material and information generated during such an investigation, and sub-s 23(1)(a) contains a requirement for the police to carry out an investigation.

It states:
. . . that where a criminal investigation is conducted all reasonable steps are taken for the purposes of the investigation, and in particular all reasonable lines of enquiry are pursued.

Part II of the CPIA Code of Practice defines the officer in charge of an investigation and what their role is within the Act:
Is the police officer responsible for directing a criminal investigation. He is also responsible for ensuring that proper procedures are in place for recording information and retaining records of information and other material in the investigation.

Next week we will look at Major Incident Room Standardised Administrative Procedures in relation to the role and repsonsibilities of the SIO.

|STARTHTML|About the Authors: Detective Superintendent Tony Cook was a CID officer with Greater Manchester Police for over 31 years until his retirement in 2009. During his time as an SIO, he led a number of high profile investigations including operations into gangland violence at Moss Side, the Bolton murder of a teenage girl in 2002, and the Denton strangling case. He was a trained assessor for promotion and a qualified Authorising Officer under RIPA. Tony received 14 commendations and a first-class BSc Honours degree in social sciences and a Diploma in Social Policy & Criminology from the Open University. Andy Tattersall, formerly Detective Superintendent in Greater Manchester Police on the Force Major Incident Team, retired in 2007 after 33 years service and became the first ever Support Staff SIO in charge of a new Homicide Support Unit. With over 29 years in CID at all ranks Andy received the Homicide Working Group National Award for his Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Homicide in November 2006.|ENDHTML|

To see more details about the Senior Investigating Officers' Handbook, or to purchase a copy, click here

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