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SIO Corner: Statement Policies And 'Defining The Scene'

This week we look at setting a policy for statement-taking and how the SIO defines the scene

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).

Statement Policies

The SIO must decide when written statements will be required to be taken from persons interviewed. These may be subject to further considerations depending on the type of witness or the age and/or nature of the individual concerned.

A clear policy needs to be established and recorded within the policy file to give some guidance to teams who are interviewing people. This might not just be directly as eye-witnesses to the offence under investigation, and can also apply, for example, to TIE subjects or alibi witnesses.

All those engaged on the enquiry need to be informed as to what the SIO’s statement policy is, for example statements must be taken from:

1. Any person at or near scene (1).
2. Any relatives/associates of the victim and other persons who may have any useful background information.
3. Any person who has relevant information for the purposes of the investigation.
4. Any alibi witnesses.
5. Any others at the SIO’s discretion.

Defining the ‘Scene’

In addition to the usefulness of defining a ‘scene’ with particular emphasis on parameters and cordons, etc for the purposes of forensic examination and searching (see Chapter 5), there is also a requirement to define each crime scene for the benefit of the incident room in order to index onto the HOLMES2 database.

The SIO will have to determine not only what forms the parameters of the scene but also the ‘vicinity’ of the scene. This enables TIE policies to be specific as to elimination criteria, for example a category may be to ‘TIE all persons within scene (1)’, or ‘TIE all persons within the vicinity of scene (1)’. The latter category enables the SIO to widen the geographical area for the purposes of TIE identification and criteria.

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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