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SIO Corner: Risk & Control Strategy Models

This week we conclude our introduction to the role of SIO with the most important subject of Risk and Control

|STARTHTML|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).|ENDHTML|

|STARTHTML|Risk + Control Strategy Models|ENDHTML|

Once a risk has been identified a control strategy must be devised.

There are models that exist to facilitate this, such as the risk assessment scoring matrix that measures probability versus impact. This uses the principle that the greatest risk is caused by a situation produced when the probability and impact scores are high.

It follows that risks that are both low in impact and low in probability are not worthy of great concern to the SIO. There are four strategies that can be adopted in relation to risks that need controlling, which are contained within the acronym |STARTHTML|RARA:|ENDHTML|

A Avoid
R Reduce?
A Accept

Changing tactics to achieve the same objectives will afford a means of removing, avoiding, or reducing risks. Alternatively the risks can be deemed to be so negligible that they can be accepted.


The SIO role is one that is extremely challenging and demanding with extraodinarily high levels of risk and accountability. There is a lot of expectation and pressure to cope with the various demands and deliver a successful outcome. The role is one that like most other elements of policing has had to move with the times and there are different and varied challenges to contend with.

Risk assessments, human rights, diverse communities, media intrusiveness, masses of extra legislation and procedural changes, high levels of accountability, expectations from communities and victim’s relatives, and IPCC tandem investigations to name but a few. None of this should be discouraging as most serious and major crimes, particularly murder, are often detected quite quickly. Thankfully series and linked murders (‘in extremis’) are also few and far between.

While the role can be one of the most complex and challenging, the rewards and job satisfaction more than compensate. Being responsible for playing a pivotal role in solving serious crimes, and ensuring investigations are conducted in a thorough and professional manner, are hugely gratifying.

There is no finer job satisfaction than being able to influence an outcome that may significantly help victims and communities recover from terrible atrocities and life-changing experiences, often suffered at the hands of very dangerous members of society. It is hoped that this first chapter will now effectively ‘set the scene’ for the others that are to follow.

Next week we will move on to Investigative Decision Making.

|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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