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SIO Corner: Effective Resource Management

We look at the effective resource management of roles within a Major Incident Room (MIR)


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).


Resources

Complex major investigations will require the SIO to manage all their resources carefully as a large number of staff, including experts and those brought in from elsewhere to assist, need to be managed and instructed in what is required of them. There will be considerations such as budgetary requirements (and constraints), technical resources, vehicles, overtime costs, and expenses to consider in addition to ensuring the correct amount and type of resources are available.

It is orthodox practice to make substantial resources available in the early stages of a major investigation. This is to ensure that as much evidence and information is captured and secured as possible, before it becomes lost forever or contaminated.

Enquiry teams can be reassessed and trimmed at a later stage when resource implications may not be as critical. It is worth keeping a regular check on what resources may be available in advance, particularly if undertaking ‘cover rota’ duties.

Sometimes, because of competing demands, an essential management skill is getting teams to perform to a higher standard than their numbers would suggest is possible. In reality there are only finite resources available and the SIO should record staffing problems of balancing investigational needs against (non-)available resources. This will help safeguard the SIO if a review of an undetected crime comes later. Nonetheless, provided staff are willing, eager, enthusiastic, and passionate about their tasks, attitudes inherent in good SIOs, success can still be achieved despite staffing limitations. The SIO has to get the most out of available staff by setting achievable and realistic priorities.

KEY POINT

1. It is common practice for staff engaged on major enquiries to work in pairs. This, however, halves the quantity of resources available. Unless there is a high-risk task to complete, or corroboration is required, or a complex TIE is to be completed, then it is a suggestion from experience that there is little justification for working in pairs other than for the sake of tradition or maintaining morale. This is a luxury that can no longer be sustained due to resource constraints. If an obstacle to working in pairs is lack of available vehicles, then look into borrowing or leasing some to alleviate the problem.

2. One good piece of advice is to get an early idea as to the nature and scale of an investigation in order to make an informed decision on the quantity and type of resources required, eg what category it is (Cat A, B, etc) and the gravity of the crime, plus likely political, community, and media impact. This will need continuous reassessment. Wherever possible, the SIO should appoint a person to manage and control all the logistical issues, as well as to find the right staff with the requisite skills and abilities (eg trained FLOs, witness interviewers, search experts, etc). Correctly matching tasks to skills and experience and facilitating potential development opportunities need to be borne in mind.

3. If an enquiry is going to be long and protracted, a human resource manager should be tasked with monitoring the development and career aspirations of those engaged on the investigation. Sometimes prolonged attachments can hinder career opportunities if they are not managed properly.

Factors Affecting Resourcing

In addition to considerations of categorization, there are other factors to consider:

Specialist support

The SIO will often call upon specialists to assist the investigation. These could come from a multitude of sources. Some of the more common ones are as follows:

Effective Resource Management - Logistics Co-ordination Units (LCU)

Some enquiries may pose substantial logistical challenges such as those involving serial offending and cross-force boundary enquiries (ie NIM level II type). These will potentially require the skilful management and control of large numbers and different types of assets, eg mutual aid and/or specialists such as surveillance units and search teams.

A separate logistics cell (or Logistics Co-ordination Unit) may prove useful to manage all the various required resources by administering and organizing accommodation, catering vehicles, equipment, finance, IT support, duty rosters, travel arrangements, welfare and personnel matters, expenses, cross-charging with other forces, procuring specialist services etc.

Teams of trained briefing officers could also be incorporated into the unit to provide continuous briefings and updates to large numbers of staff in line with the SIO’s objectives and requirements. Personnel to fill key roles can be selected and sourced from existing administrative departments that are used to dealing with these sorts of human resources administrative matters on a regular basis.

Staff could be temporarily seconded to the LCU for the duration of the enquiry and/or for as long as is necessary. The LCU could be managed by someone sufficiently experienced with the requisite skills to run the unit on the SIO’s behalf and who may also have to be answerable to a gold commander for the efficient management of resources and finance throughout the duration of the enquiry/operation.

Any logistics support through an LCU should always be closely linked to the enquiry MIR to avoid duplication of effort to record all details of their activities through the HOLMES2 system. This is also to ensure the SIO and the management team can always maintain control and that there is an effective audit trail of all activity and functions performed by the LCU.



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

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