CRIME SCENE MANAGEMENT: A GUIDE FOR LICENSEES

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1 CRIME SCENE MANAGEMENT: A GUIDE FOR LICENSEES Produced by the Thames Valley Police Licensing Team March 2012

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3 i n t r o d u c t i o n The key to the successful investigation is the gathering and securing of evidence both in terms of being able to accurately establish what has happened and then in support of any subsequent legal proceedings. Because of this, the first 60 minutes following an offence are crucial in preserving evidence a concept referred to as the golden hour principle the more time that passes, the more likely it is that evidence is going to be lost, compromised or destroyed. Unfortunately (from this perspective at least), crime scenes on licensed premises can be amongst the most difficult to manage. This is mainly due to the numbers of persons present, but the consumption of alcohol can also be a hindrance! Hopefully, criminal offences particularly serious ones are a rarity on your premises. However, they remain a possibility no matter how well a premise is run and this guide seeks to prepare you for that eventuality, with a view to best placing you to assist the police in their investigations. The extent to which this advice will apply in any one case will depend very much on the individual situation. a s s e s s The first step is to assess what has happened. The main questions you should be asking yourself include: What is the offence? How serious is it? Where has it happened? Who is involved? What objects are important? You are not expected to have an in-depth knowledge of the law to answer this question! Simply recognising a basic offence type will be enough for example, is it an assault, a fight, criminal damage, theft, or a sexual offence? Seriousness can often be judged in terms of either financial value (for damage or theft) or the level of injury or fear caused (for assaults and disorder), although some offence categories are inherently serious (sexual offences and robberies for example) This is very important in terms of gathering forensic evidence in particular. It doesn t necessarily mean the immediate vicinity of the offence itself, but possibly other areas that the offenders and/or the victims have been. For example, an assault may be localised to the bar area, but the offender may have been sat at a table at the other end of the room. There are three categories of people who it is important to recognise in the early stages: the victim(s); the offender(s); and the witness(es). Also consider anyone present who is associated with any of the above, even though they themselves weren t involved. Again, this is not just limited to any weapons that have been used, although clearly those are important! Consideration should be given to what objects and/or surfaces the offender(s) has touched, as well as any property left behind (for example, offenders have been known to leave in such a hurry that they have done so without their jacket). 3

4 p r e s e r v e The second step is to preserve the scene, which involves a mix of action and inaction. The example illustrated here is based on a fight/serious assault, but the same principles apply to the other crime types as well. 1. DON T clear up! There will be an understandable urge to clean up any mess that has been caused, including any blood, but this is likely to destroy important evidence. Please leave all furniture, glasses, bottles and debris (broken glass etc) as it is, so that it can be assessed by the police for its forensic value. 2. DON T touch! Try not to even touch anything that is in any way connected to the offence especially anything that has been handled by the offender(s). 3. DO cordon off the area You ll have seen the use of barrier tape to cordon off crime scenes in the media, and it would help matters enormously for you to do the same. Barrier tape isn t on many people s shopping lists, so in the absence of that, a row of chairs or any other physical barrier can be just as effective. 4. DO try to keep key people at the scene Having recognised the key people as part of your assessment in step one, do your best to persuade them to stay on the scene until the police arrive. You cannot use force to do so (except on the offender in some cases see the Use of Force guidance document for advice), so if they insist on leaving, try to persuade them to leave contact details that you can pass on to the police. 5. DO preserve CCTV footage 1 Although there might not be an immediate need to provide a copy of any footage, it would be very useful for the attending officers to view it on your system straight away. In any case, a copy should be preserved as soon as possible. 4

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6 c o m m u n i c a t e Step three is to tell the police exactly what has happened. Clearly, in an emergency or other serious situation, you shouldn t delay calling the emergency services in the first place. In that respect, making the 999 call actually comes before step one. This step is intended for once the police officers have arrived at the scene. The value to the police of having someone present that has a good understanding of what has gone on and what has been done to secure evidence and identify key people cannot not be over-estimated. Once you have communicated all of the details to the attending officers, they will then advise you as to how to proceed. Please note that in the event of a crime, you and your staff may be asked to provide your fingerprints (and in rare cases, DNA) for elimination purposes. c o n t a c t s Thames Valley Police Licensing Team Thames Valley Police HQ South, Oxford Road, Kidlington, Oxon OX5 2NX 101 (Thames Valley Police non-emergency number) 6

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