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Crime scene management

Dr Vivek Sahajpal, crime scene management, improper handling of evidence, crime scene, collection of evidence.
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As far as examination of biological evidence is concerned the most important step is processing the scene of crime. So the management of scene of crime is very, very important in any forensic investigation. So the scene of crime management is basically consists of four components. One is the information management, which is about the management of the information at the scene of crime. The second one is the management of the manpower, which is regarding how the manpower has to be managed, what all duties are to be assigned to different teams. Then is the technology management. That means, what all technology has to be used in the case of processing the crime scene.
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And finally about the logistics management, which pertains to the logistics regarding the scene of crime. So as far as the management of the scene of crime is concerned, the scene of crime can be cordoned into three different partitions. The outermost level is, this is basically meant for overall security and command area and also for the media. The second level is basically restricted for official purposes. And finally, the third level, which is basically meant for the target security and this is the main crime scene area where no one else should be allowed to enter.
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So as far as crime scene management is concerned, if you want to think of it in the terms of a flowchart, how a crime scene needs to be processed, the most immediate action which is required at the scene of crime is to cordon control and secure. That means the crime scene should be cordoned, it should be brought under control and it should be secured properly. Once these things are done, the second level is the survey of the crime scene, which essentially means of about walking to the crime scene and documenting it briefly. Then the real process of examining the crime scene starts, which means processing the crime scenes.
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So in this case, the team duties are assigned that what team is supposed to conduct, what work. Then search for the clues and the reference material is made and documentation is also done in detail. After that, the collection and packaging of the evidence is done. Once the evidence has been collected and packaged, the final survey of the crime scene is done so as to ensure that nothing is left. So if you talk of the crime scene survey. So first of all, we do the walkthrough or the initial documentation that provides for an overview of the entire crime scene identifies threat and ensures protection of transient and conditional evidence.
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Provides a systematic evaluation and documentation, determines initial investigating procedures, written and photographic documentation records initial conditions of the crime scene. Assessment of the crime. So it involves determine number of personnel and assignment of the responsibilities, contamination control essential to maintain the safety of the personnel and the integrity of the evidence. Crime scene documentation. So detailed documentation comprises of note taking, which is written and permanent record, videography, which involves 3D portrayal of the crime scene. Photography true and accurate, which is basically the true and the accurate pictorial record of the crime scene.
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And in some instances you can also do the sketching also, if you don’t have photography available, sketching should also be done, which creates a perspective record with respect to size and measurements of the crime scene. As far as the evidence collection guidelines are concerned, one has to understand the collection of evidence has to be always perfect. So while collecting evidence, one must understand the evidential value and the purpose of collection. This may support or refute an individual’s involvement. Practice appropriate collection, packaging and labelling techniques. Maximize evidence recovery, minimize contamination. These should be the watchwords while processing a crime scene and collecting evidence.
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Once the crime scene has been processed with respect to collection of evidence, the final survey should be conducted to review the goal objectives, check completion of assignments, check evidence inventory and documentation, check assessment of difficult access area, photograph, final seal condition and then the scene is finally ready for the release. Issues regarding crime scene management in India we have seen many times that crime scenes are not properly protected and there is lots of public interference, so public needs to be educated about it. And there is also excess of media involvement in crime scenes.
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And many times there is delay in seeking forensic services, and what happens is when forensic services are sought at a very, very late stage, most of the evidence has been either disturbed or degraded. So it is of utmost importance that in order to extract the best possible out of a crime scene, the forensic services should be sought at the earliest possible time. There is also lack of proper documentation and there is lack of implementation of the standard protocols or operating procedure in processing the scene of crime, which ultimately leads to improper processing of the crime scene and many important evidences may be skipped during this process.
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So it is of utmost importance that forensic services should be involved in processing scene of crime at the earliest.

Why is management of a crime scene important? How should a crime scene be secured and evidence be collected? In this lesson, let us delve into these questions with Dr Vivek Sahajpal.

Are you aware of court decisions where improper crime scene management influenced the appreciation of evidence by the judge? Share with us in the comments section below.

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Decoding Forensics for Legal Professionals

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