We are currently experiencing network problems with the desktop version of Police Oracle. We hope to have these resolved as soon as possible.

SIO Corner: Exhibits And Scene Security

This week we deal with the issue of Rendezvous Points (RVP) and Common Approach Paths (CAP) in relation to Scene Preservation

In this series we 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).

Rendezvous Points (RVP)

An RVP is usually the best place to site the officer compiling the outer cordon scene log and should provide precisely what the name suggests. A suitable location should be found where all necessary scene resources can go to meet up and discuss examination and search tactics. A signed police vehicle may be used in the first instance that is easily identifiable, and if there are good communication systems on board they can also be put to good use.

There may be practical and logistical difficulties to consider (such as parking or briefing facilities) with the sheer volume and type of resources that may be required to attend. The SIO may feel it is easier to control all their required resources if they are directed to attend an RVP located nearby but not directly at the scene cordon. If the SIO is going to require specialist services or agencies that bring large vehicles and equipment (e.g. an underwater search unit) then an area needs to be identified where these resources can safely assemble, park their vehicles, gain access to catering facilities, change clothing, rest, and recuperate etc and not be impeded by the public or media.

In which case the SIO (and in some cases this may be a requirement of a gold or silver commander) should nominate a further supervisor to take control of managing all the necessary arrangements for the resources required at the scene. In some cases this may include traffic management if there are vehicle and public route diversions involved. These roles are usually given to designated bronze commanders. The suitability of RVP points (and secondary RVP points such as a Forward Command Post (FCP)—a term used in some major incident response contingency plans) must be a consideration.

Risks and safety also have to be considered when locations are chosen, particularly in terrorist cases where unexploded secondary devices may have been deliberately placed; in which case any potential RVP will have to be searched before it is deemed safe and suitable for use.

Common Approach Paths (CAP)

A common approach path needs to be designated and marked out at the earliest opportunity. This should be the designated route into and out of the crime scene for all those subsequently attending for examination purposes etc (and removal of victims). It is likely that the most direct route to any victims will have been taken by responding officers and medical teams.

Where possible this route should be used to exit from the area, unless it becomes clear the offenders have used that route (e.g. if eye witnesses say so, or there are footwear marks or other tell-tale signs). Protective stepping plates are usually used to protect the surface underneath and particularly if inside premises where trace evidence on flooring and carpets may need to be preserved.

It is vital that the details of all those initially attending are recorded so that the route taken can be clarified before the CAP is determined. A sketch plan may be useful which can be exhibited and registered on the HOLMES2 database at a later stage. The golden rule is that a CAP should be established on the least likeliest route taken by the offender(s) or victim(s). The CAP may also have to be wide enough to enable CSIs and other experts to carry in equipment and for the removal of any bodies.


At outdoor scenes an SIO should try to select hard-standing or compact gravel type path areas for the CAP as they are more practical to use, also easier and quicker to search to render them clear than other surfaces such as foliage or grassland.

Checklist—Scene security and preservation

1. Location of the incident (or body)

2. Presence of any physical evidence.

3. Eyewitness accounts and or information/intelligence.


In terrorist attacks it is not uncommon for secondary devices to be placed for deliberate targeting of responding emergency services and to cause maximum carnage and destruction at places where cordons and RV points are likely to be located. This must be borne in mind at these types of scenes.

Next week we will look at Displaced Residents and Vehicles, and Legal Powers - Entering and Securing Crime Scenes

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.

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

Leave a Comment
In Other News
SIO Corner: Fast-Track Forensic Submissions
SIO Corner: Exhibits, Forensic Submission And Reviews
SIO Corner: Health And Safety Considerations
SIO Corner: Physical Evidence Collection And Crime Scene Release
SIO Corner: Specialised Searches And National Search Advisor
SIO Corner: Open Area And Underwater Searching
SIO Corner: Premises Searching
SIO Corner: Role of PolSA
SIO Corner: Seizing Evidence Powers And Crime Scene Searches
SIO Corner: Crime Scene Documentation (Cont'd)
SIO Corner: Crime Scene Logs And Associated Documentation
SIO Corner: Forensic Recovery And Crime Scene Documentation
SIO Corner: Crime Scene Assessments
SIO Corner: Displacement And Legal Powers To Enter
SIO Corner: Exhibits And Scene Security
SIO Corner: Management of Crime Scenes
SIO Corner: Firearms Incidents
SIO Corner: SIO's M.I. Initial Actions
SIO Corner: The Golden Hour
SIO Corner: Initial Response & Teamwork (Cont'd)
SIO Corner: Initial Response
SIO Corner: Team Welfare
SIO Corner: The Team
SIO Corner: Teambuilding
SIO Corner: Hypotheses And Theories
SIO Corner: Investigative Decision Making
More News