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SIO Corner: The TIE Process (Trace/Interview/Eliminate)

This week we focus on the use of the TIE process (Trace/Interview/Eliminate) within a major investigation.


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).


The TIE Process (Trace/Interview/Eliminate)


The objective of a TIE process is to identify and process individuals who realistically could have committed the offence under investigation. It is also a method by which individuals can be eliminated against a criterion set by the SIO and can be instrumental in leading to the identification of the offender(s) or witnesses. Those who cannot be eliminated are subject to further enquiries aimed at establishing if there is material that would enable them to be implicated in the offence.

TIE enquiries are particularly useful in cases where there is no obvious suspect and a large number of people have characteristics that mean they could be potentially involved. The process should then produce an everreducing pool of individuals on which the inquiry can focus in order to identify the offender(s).

A key feature of the TIE process is to populate TIE categories with relevant individuals identified by the MIR from information processed from enquiries, house-to-house (H-2-H), calls from the public, intelligence research, search activities, etc. One of the important main lines of enquiry should be to pursue TIE subjects who have been identified and categorized by the SIO in order to try to eliminate them against set criteria, which should be carefully determined and recorded in the policy file.

The Murder Investigation Manual (ACPO Centrex, 2006), 250 states:

Being in a TIE category does not mean that individuals are suspected of the crime, merely that the group is one which, in theory at least, could contain the offender . . . Following enquiries, TIE subjects should be regarded as being either eliminated or un-eliminated from the TIE category, not as being eliminated or un-eliminated as the offender.

Other than enquiries aimed at tracing and arresting declared ‘suspects’, TIE actions tend to be the next most significant in terms of status and importance to an enquiry. They should only ever be raised either directly or in the name of and under the authority of the SIO. This is because:

In order to facilitate the effective allocation and management of TIEs, they are placed into categories or groups on HOLMES2. Those people who are contained in any TIE category are then known as ‘TIE subjects’, not TIE ‘suspects’—it is very important to differentiate between the two. This is because the term ‘suspect’ for obvious reasons holds a very different and special status.

Some typical examples of TIE categories are as follows:

Note: The SIO should formulate categories specific to their inquiry (ie bespoke), and the more TIE categories a subject is linked to, the more likely they are to be of interest and therefore worthy of closer examination.


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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