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SIO Corner: TIE Elimination Methods And Setting Alibi Times

This week we focus on TIE (Trace/Interview/Eliminate) methods and the setting of alibi times


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).

TIE Elimination Methods

The effectiveness of TIE enquiries rests on the thoroughness of the enquiries made in relation to each individual. In order to effectively eliminate any TIE subject it is necessary to set some criteria to eliminate against. Various methods will help satisfy the HOLMES2 and MIRSAP elimination criteria discussed later and will be determined by individual circumstances and the amount of information available, eg the description of a suspect or forensic evidence found at the crime scene, such as tyre or footwear marks. Some examples of TIE elimination processes are as follows:

Additional notes

1. An SIO should formulate justifiable, proportionate, and necessary requirements specific to their inquiry.
2. TIE policies for recovering items or samples should be a standing agenda item at forensic and exhibit and review meetings to check for appropriateness and relevance.
3. It is possible to use a checklist for each TIE, with all elimination criteria listed so that they can be ‘ticked off’ as completed.

Note: PDFs are used to record the personal details and description of any subject, including vehicle details, mobile phone numbers, unusual characteristics, etc. The SIO should decide who they wish their staff to obtain PDFs from, and normally include TIE and/or TI subjects.

Setting Alibi Times

TIE subjects should be questioned about their movements during any alibi times set by the SIO. These are to coincide with significant events applicable to the incident under investigation and determined by, for example, witness information, CCTV, or time of death indicating when the offence occurred.

The time parameters may need to be set wide enough to include other factors such as events before or after the incident that may be significant also. However, the wider the times are, the more work is involved in trying to alibi a subject over a longer period.

Enquiry teams should include in the AQVF where the TIE subject was and details of any person(s) who can verify their movements, ie alibi witnesses, who should be seen and interviewed. Their details should be fully recorded on an AQVF, which should normally be completed if an alibi is to be confirmed, and signed by the alibi witnesses as proof of verification.

Alternatively, if the witnesses do not confirm the subject’s alibi, then this information should be confirmed in witness statement form.


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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