At the Domestic Watch meeting held at the Glenvista Shopping Mall this week, domestic staff were shown how to understand and manage a crime scene should they either become a victim of a crime, or be a witness to a crime.
A crime scene is any event or incident which one would report to the SAPS and this ranges from a break-in at your home, to a mall robbery, to a shooting at a petrol station.
Linda Goodenough, Community Development Manager for Fidelity ADT told attendees that knowledge is king and we all have a duty to behave in a certain manner. “The more information and knowledge one can give the SAPS, the better,” she says.
At a crime scene, every bit of evidence counts and every bit of contact with that scene leaves a trace. She says the biggest challenge is to minimise that trace.
She provided the group with the following 7 key steps to follow:
- Notify your closest police station and security provider – This is the very first first step and if necessary, request back-up medical support if anyone is injured.
- Observation during incident – If you are on the scene first do not allow anyone to go near the area until the correct officials arrive. Remember the suspect/s could still be at the scene and you need to be very careful. Nothing should be moved.
- Taking care of the injured – This takes preference over all activities, with due consideration of integrity of physical evidence. Treating the injured is more important. If the injured person can be moved safely or can move themselves, they should be moved to a designated area away from the crime scene, after marking and noting the positions in which they were found.
- Secure the crime scene – You need to limit access to, and movement from the scene. You can secure the scene by moving all bystanders to a designated area and locking the door, gate or other entrance to the scene. If this is not possible try and cordon off the area in some way.
The only people who should actually move onto a crime scene are the official
SAPS forensic team and they can be identified by their red armbands. If it is
absolutely necessary for someone to go onto the scene, the person’s full
particulars and reason for entry must be noted.
If the route used by the perpetrator to get to and from the scene is known, alternative access routes to the scene need to be identified for use by emergency personnel and the SAPS
- Dealing with witnesses – Every person present at, or in the vicinity of, the scene is a potential witness but not everyone wants to be a witness. Witnesses should be asked not to leave the scene without taking down their full particulars or submitting statements first. They should be encouraged not to discuss the incident amongst themselves as this could influence their recall.
The reality is, that if a witness doesn’t want to be involved, you must respect their rights. You cannot force them to stay or give them names.
“Fear prevents witnesses from being witnesses,”
- Dealing with suspects – One’s personal safety should always be one’s primary concern. In the event of a citizen’s arrest, the perpetrators must be removed from the scene and secured. Contact between the perpetrators and the witnesses or victims must be avoided and this step needs the support of the SAPS.
- Dealing with evidence – Finally it is important to understand how to deal with evidence. You are not allowed to take photos – the defence will rule that out. Only official CSI photographs will be allowed. If there is CCTV footage from a scene, it must be brought into the police station or handed over as a disk. Do not to touch or remove evidence at all – protect all possible evidence matter. The second rule is to only remove evident matter in order to protect it against damage or contamination. If evidence is moved, the location must be pointed out to the SAPS so that the evidence can be collected later.
“Forensic work is highly detailed and often it is the small details one would never pick up with the naked eye that are invaluable clues. These should never be tampered with and sadly many cases are thrown out of court as people do not realise they have not followed the right procedures. Remember, every person can play an invaluable role in ensuring criminals are put behind bars,” she concludes.
PREPARED ON BEHALF OF FIDELITY ADT. CONTACT JACQUI RORKE WITH ANY QUERIES ON (011) 463-6372 OR EMAIL JACQUI@FINDLEYPR.CO.ZA