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Basic principles – Record and Recover

Basic principles - record and recover
Records of the scene are made in order to create a permanent repository of reliable knowledge about the scene. The record is an essential requirement for legal purposes, communication and briefings, report writing, reconstruction of the scene during the investigation, reconstruction of the scene at a later date. This can be for anything up to 25 years. Records establish a contemporaneous capture of the incident at the time of an investigation and typically involve notes, plans, diagrams, and witness statements supported by still or video photography and possibly other specialist means, such as aerial, underwater, panoramic, or stitched images. Photography is the basic tool used by the examiner to record the scene and its contents.
A structured approach should be taken to create a narrative of the scene. The first step is to take overlapping images that triangulate or quarter the general location and then the approach to the scene itself. The photographic narrative is repeated at the scene with closeup images. Finally all items of interest will be photographed in position before being collected. Items of interest include finger marks, footwear impressions, tool mark impressions, and blood patterns. All records, photographs, notes, and electronic media are legal documents and must be securely retained. Recover. Just as control and preserve blended in practise, so do record and recover. The records can be regarded as a means of recovering the whole scene for scrutiny at a later time and place.
However the focus of this section is identifying and recovering the items of potential evidential interest, namely the searching of the scene. Effective scene searching is a planned and systematic process that can range from the simple, as we have seen with volume crimes, to the exceedingly complex. Remember the World Trade Centre bombing? The scenes of major crimes should employ a strategy that takes account of factors of specific relevance to the suspected crime, such as searching for weapons or blood, together with factors of general relevance, such as documents, computers, and vehicles that will help to re-create the overall picture of what’s happened.
One of the factors that is emphasised in the re-construction section is that only the perpetrator knows what occurred at the scene. And therefore the strategy should allow for changes in direction if unexpected things are found, for example, unexpected large amounts of money or drugs.
The systematic search is implemented by using one or more of several accepted search patterns, including grid, lanes, zones, and spiral or wheel. There are no rigid rules for which to choose, but the examples shown in the diagrams tend to fit the nature of the area searched. The spiral for the indoor apartment search and lanes for the larger outdoor area.

By now we should all understand the importance of control and preserve, and be able to reflect on how well (or otherwise) these principles are followed in the case video.

But even if the answers are “Yes, we get it” and “Yes they were”, we are less than half way there. To return to Kirk, we have to be able to make the things whose integrity has been assured by control and preserve tell their story. And they can’t unless we know and have faithfully recorded the scene and the disposition of objects within it.

Record and recover are dealt with together because, to a considerable degree, they (like control and preserve) intermingle. The scene examiner has to identify those objects of interest that will be recovered for subsequent examination and ensure that their origin is correctly recorded.

Recovery itself is complex and varied, ranging from the large and obvious, to the minute and invisible to the naked eye.

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Introduction to Forensic Science

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