I'd like to start by apologising for the length of this article...this may be one limited to the cops amongst you. Anyway; Do you agree with what i've said? Do you disagree? Have i missed something? Have i got it completely wrong? Feel free to comment me to death about it.
As i cast my eyes across the rack of daily papers it becomes obvious that its a slow news day. Almost every paper has a different front page story. My chosen paper for today was The Times...and they have generated a story out of their huge archive of Freedom of Information requests.
A very small number of crimes just aren't solvable. Some crimes require passive investigation. Some crimes require active investigation. Some crimes require an emergency response, followed by an active investigation. There is a proportion of crimes that are solvable, but aren't solved for whatever reason. So what are the factors that contribute to a successful investigation?
The way the police present evidence can be the difference between charge and not charge. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will not charge an offender if the presented evidence is so lacking that it is unlikely to lead to a successful prosecution.
Public Interest: Public Interest is the second factor, after evidence, that the CPS look at to decide if they will progress to charging. It is based on a now legendary speech by Sir Hartley Shawcross in 1951 when he was the Attorney General; "
“It has never been the rule in this country – I hope it never will be – that suspected criminal offences must automatically be the subject of prosecution. Indeed, the very first regulations under which the Director of Public Prosecutions worked provided that he should intervene to prosecute, amongst other cases: wherever it appears that the offence or the circumstances of its commission is or are of such a character that a prosecution in respect therefore is required in the public interest. That is still the dominant consideration." For more info on this, see this paper (PDF) written by the current DPP Keir Starmer
|She can investigate me any time|
The investigator should be a specialist, rather than a jack of all trades. There must either be; investment in training those officers charged with immediate response equipping them with more specialist skills, Or a quicker handover of investigations from these response officers to specialists.
Finally, a good investigator will have authority. Authority comes from law, and from competence. If the investigator has mastered the skills mentioned, he will have a natural authority and inspire confidence in the victim and other officers. This is what the police must be striving for.
Management: Managers should be facilitative rather than supervisory. If the investigator requires direct supervision, they are not right to be leading an investigation. A manager will exist to ensure the investigator has everything he needs in order to achieve the best result. This will include effective systems of work, technology, support staff, and time. Time is where a manager can offer the most support. An investigator will achieve the most if they can focus on the most important investigations without distraction. The manager will work with the investigator to manage their workload which may involve transferring investigations to other colleagues, or giving the investigator more support in terms of staff.
In a modern context the pride of solving a crime itself is often enough of a reward. However there are occasions where individuals receive little praise and support meaning they do not feel valued. This can lead to lower detection rates, low motivation, resentment and inefficiency. The incentive could be financial (bonus scheme), or it could just be public recognition of a job well done. The latter is often more than enough.
Secrecy: It is important that techniques are protected in order to prevent the criminal fraternity from countering our methods. The careful selection of a team, proper management of paperwork, and consistent use of the Government Protective Marking Scheme (GPMS) will ensure this. Where techniques and information starts to become public knowledge, the less likely it will be for the police to secure the evidence they need. This is the ongoing battle by the police to stay one step ahead of the criminals.
By way of contrast to my selected factors, Tyska and Fennelly (1999, p. 96) suggest the following as benchmarks of a successful investigation.
- A logical sequence is followed.
- All available physical evidence is legally obtained
- All witnesses are effectively interviewed.
- All suspects are legally and effectively interrogated.
- All leads are thoroughly developed.
- All details of the case are accurately and completely recorded and reported.
- Failure to be systemic
- Failure to be thorough
- Failure to present the case effectively.
- Failure to manage time and other resources.
- Failure to be humble
- Lack of expertise in a certain area.
Investigation is the core of what the police do, and i would like to see the professional body focus on delivering training and accreditation on investigation only. With limited resources we can't afford to create a body that qualifies officers in all policing disciplines, so we must focus on the one that is shown to be our biggest weakness, and the one that is most important to the public; investigation.