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CRIME SCENE MANAGEMENT
BY: Amb Steve Mbugua
INTRODUCTION TO CRIME SCENE MANAGEMENT
Definition of a Crime Scene
The scene of a crime is the area in the immediate vicinity of the occurrence, within which evidence
might be found. In some cases, there may be a primary crime scene and one or more secondary
A primary crime scene is the area in the immediate vicinity of the occurrence within which
evidence might be found. Thus a bank where the armed robbery occurred is a primary crime scene.
A secondary crime scene is an area, although not in the immediate vicinity of the primary crime
scene, still may afford evidence thereby linking the offenders with the offence. Therefore, in the
case of an armed robbery, the place where the getaway car is parked is a secondary crime scene.
Similarly, the route between the bank and the place where the getaway car is abandoned, both are
secondary crime scenes. People such as suspects and victims could also be considered secondary
The limits of this area will vary according to the nature of the event. At times it can be localized
but on other occasions it might cover a considerable area. (Such as a hit run accident, the
investigator would extend his search a considerable distance from the point of impact to locate
Responsibilities of the First Responder
The duties of a first responder areto:
1. Assist the victim.
2. Search for and arrest the suspect if still on the scene.
3. Detain all witnesses because they possess valuable information about the crime scene.
Keep witnesses separated to preserve their objectivity.
4. Protect the crime scene. Begin by using barrier tape, official vehicles, or other means to
secure the scene. Establish a crime scene security log to record the names of all
persons who enter or exit the crime scene. Do not smoke, drink, or eat within the
secured crime scene and do not allow unnecessary persons or officials to enter or
contaminate the scene.
5. Note and communicate to crime scene investigators all movementsand alterations made
to the crime scene.
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Where a crime scene is complex or of a serious nature and you have access to experienced
investigators and forensic officers, you should not attempt to examine the scene alone if at all
Ascertain if Crime Committed
The first Officer(s) attending the scene must, where appropriate:
Conduct First Aid to any Victim
Establish the extent (size) of the scene
Establish if a crime has been committed.
Establish whether the incident is minor or major to enable you to determine the level of support
that will be required to manage the crime scene.
Cordon the Scene
The following list demonstrates why it is important to ensure that the scene is not interfered with:
To protect vital evidence especially if this evidence may be endangered prior to the arrival
of a Forensic Officer.
Mark the scene boundary with tape or any material that will clearly show the area not to be
entered by unauthorised persons.
To establish an entry/exit point at the scene.
To prevent entry to the scene of any persons, including other police if they do not need to
Along with witnesses when first arriving at a crime scene there may often is a suspect still present.
Separate the suspect from other witnesses
Search and secure the suspect
Note any relevant comments he may make about the crime and Do NOT interview or question the
suspect as that is the role of the nominated investigator. However if you make the decision that
you are to be the Investigator then you make take any action with the offender that you deem
necessary in an inquiry. However you should make notes of anything the suspect says and if the
suspect starts to make admissions then you must appropriately caution him according to law.
Persons in authority should be notified, especially if the crime is of a serious nature. They may be;
The Command Centre
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Investigation Officer (IO), and
This will ensure that specialized officers trained to deal with serious offences will attend the scene
Record Crime Scene Movements
Duties of the Officer Preserving the Crime Scene include: -
Commencing a Crime Scene Log/Administrative Log in which all actions occurring within
the scene are recorded. An Officer may be nominated as a log keeper after consultation
with the Officer in Charge of the investigation.
Removing people through a common exit point.
Recording who enters the scene and why, time of entry and exit to/from the crime scene.
Maintaining control of the scene until it is taken over by an Investigator or Forensic
Authority to restrict access to the scene to prevent contamination.
Isolate witnesses, record their details and, where possible, request them to stay.
Take notes about issues relevant to the scene.
Draw a basic sketch to record the scene if there appears any danger of the scene or
exhibits being interfered with.
Record all facts relating the incident and hand over it to the investigator after his arrival.
Examples: Name of eye witnesses, particulars of injured shifted to hospital, time and
related person of all facts, related and parked vehicle numbers etc.
If there is doubt about the value of an object as an exhibit; treat it as evidence until a
person examines it that is qualified to make a judgment. Assistance of other services is to
be called for in the most expedient manner without you leaving the crime scene.
When you hand the scene over to Investigators and Forensic Officers you need to be in a
position to carry out the following;
Hand over the Crime Scene Log which should include
Other information of interest such as comments the suspect has made whilst in your
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ELEMENTS OF CRIME SCENE MANAGEMENT
The only thing consistent about crime scenes is their inconsistency. Because of their diversity,
crime scenes can be classified in many ways. First, crime scenes can be classified according to the
location of the original criminal activity. This classification of the crime scene labels the site of the
original or first criminal activity as the primary crime scene and any subsequent crime scenes as
This classification does not infer any priority or importance to the scene, but is simply a
designation of sequence of locations.
Most crimes are often solved by a system that focuses on teamwork, advanced investigation skills,
ability to process crime scene properly.
By recognizing, collecting and preserving all relevant physical evidence and information, the
effectiveness of crime scene functions are only as good as the whole management system.
Crimes today are solved by the teamwork of investigators and crime scene personnel and by
the combined use of techniques and procedures recognizing the power of crime scenes, physical
evidence, records, and witnesses. Unfortunately, numerous cases, routine and complex,
have shown that despite available crime scene technologies and specially trained personnel, the
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productiveness of a crime scene investigation is only as good as the supportive management
The four distinctive but interrelated components of crime scene management are;
• Information management
• Manpower management
• Technology management, and
• Management of logistics.
These components are all based on the fundamental need for good and ongoing communication.
1. Information management
With new developments in crime scene technology, investigation has proved that crime scene
contains a tremendous amount of information. This information can often link a suspect to a crime
scene, prove or disapprove an alibi, or develop investigative leads.
Information can be in oral form, written statements or documents, or in the form of pattern
evidence located or remarked absent from scene, or pattern evidence located within the scene.
The sooner information can be recognized, collected, analyzed, and preserved, the better the
chance that the case will be solved.
Various types of information can be used to solve crimes; comprehensive victim background
check, inquiry into the actions and whereabouts of the suspect and his or her belongings during
the last 24 hour period preceding the crime.
2. Manpower management
Manpower are the agencies responsible for the crime scene processing and construction.
Several factors involving manpower adversely affect crime scene management; insufficient
personnel, poor training and lack of experience or overworked crime scene team to deliver
dedicated qualified man-hours.
3. Technology management
Change in technology mandates the continual acquisition of new and often expensive equipment
and supplies for effective crime scene processing. The amount of resources allocated for
purchasing and upgrading equipment should be appropriate to the variety and volumes of crime
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scene s encountered by the team/unit. As well as adequate training to the personnel to properly
utilize any new technology or new equipment.
Different categories of equipment
• Support vehicles; specifically constructed for crime scene purposes
• Communication; two way radio, cell phones fax machines, and computer with internet
connection. Tele-forensics and telecommunication technologies are being developed
• Tools and search equipment; hand tools, forensic light sources, metal detectors etc
• Specialized crime scene kits; latent print kits, trajectory reconstruction dowel and
accessories, casting kits for tool marks and foot ware impressions
• Chemicals and reagents; blood print enhancement reagent, latent print developers, etc
• Portable instrumentation; night vision equipment, portable laser, radar etc
• Evidence packaging materials and related forms
4. Management of logistics
Logistical concerns should be properly addressed and managed through god planning, organization
and efficient allocation of resources to be established earlier in the investigation. The following
elements are to be established;
First officer responders must do everything possible to secure the integrity of the crime scene. In
order to maintain the integrity of a crime scene, outer perimeters and a command post need to be
established. A command post should be situated outside the
perimeter of the working crime scene away from evidence location to allow investigators
document the scene logically and accurately disseminate relevant information to and from the
During the initial part of the investigation, a mobile or a temporary command post is ideal
and can be locate near the outer perimeter of the scene. As investigation evolves and rime scene
functions diminish a longer term command post may be established.
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The command post should focus on supporting the investigation team and provide facility to
establish a task force office or long term investigation centre.
Care should be taken to restrict access to the crime scene and a separate area should be identified
for members of public and media. It is the right of the media to gather information and publicize it.
When the public information office is constantly updated and portrays an honest and timely
dissemination of information to the media, vast majority of media representatives will gladly
comply to protect the scene of crime and sensitive information.
The media area should be close to the actual crime scene for them to be able to obtain some file
footage for their newscasts. This is to be established with care to protect the entire scene or
sensitive information. Periodic news conferences should be scheduled and conducted by
authorized crime scene officers during major case investigations.
A deficiency in one of these areas or an over emphasis on component and neglect of another will
result in a system that is out of balance an that will jeopardize the overall management of crime
scene investigation process.
CRIME SCENE SECURITY
Crime scene being anywhere an offence has been committed or anywhere with a potential to yield
evidence and is created after the commission of a crime, Majority of evidence required for proper
and successful prosecutions of perpetrators of crime is found at the scene of crime .Therefore, the
success of investigators depends on the actions of the first responder to a crime scene. The
integrity of a crime scene should be maintained at all times. Prompt visit is intended to safeguard
any physical evidence that could be available.
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Physical evidence is anything that a suspect has taken from, left at or that may be otherwise
connected with the crime scene or the crime itself.
Many people, both police and members of the community believe that the investigation of crime
is the sole responsibility of Investigation officer and no other police officers are capable of, or
are permitted to do so? This is a MYTH! All police officers have an investigative role.
Why Preserve a Crime Scene?
The scene of a crime is a very important area. The reason we preserve the scene is so that all
of the available evidence can be found in its original position and condition to help us solve
the crime and find out who committed the crime.
Constables are usually the first members to get to the scene of a serious crime. Most
members know that a crime scene should be protected but often do not know why or how to
go about it.
NB: EVERY CONTACT LEAVES ITS TRACES
Evidence found at the scene of a crime can be used later as exhibits in court to prove that an offender
is guilty of the offence. It is very important that evidence found at the scene is kept in its original
The scene should be kept in its original state to stop contamination (interference) of the crime scene
by people or other factors such as the weather.
Remember: every time something comes in contact with something else it leaves a trace. It may be a
fingerprint, footprint or something that we can link the crime to the offender.
What are we protecting the crime scene from?
Crime scenes will often attract crowds of onlookers and friends and family of the victim.
This may well lead to these people either deliberately or unintentionally moving or
destroying valuable evidence. Some people may even steal exhibits such as guns, knives
etc. of particular concern are police members who may also contaminate the crime scene by
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handling or touching exhibits, walking over footprints or blood stains etc.
Wind and rain, particularly, can destroy evidence quickly.
Dogs, pigs and other animals generally may tend to scavenge or disturb a crime scene and
will thus destroy or relocate valuable evidence.
Motor vehicles, particularly police cars will often drive over and destroy evidence such as
tire marks, footprints and blood stains.
Locard’s exchange principle states, in essence, that when two objects touch, there is a transfer of
Edmond Locard was educated in both medicine and law. He was fascinated with police work, and
persuaded a French police department to give him some space to start a laboratory in order to
study the concept of trace evidence. Locard believed that when two objects, or people, came into
contact with each other, each left a mark on the other.
Locard meant for his exchange principle to be an example of forces; for instance, billiard balls. A
cue ball is hit and it collides with another ball. The cue ball transfers the force to the second ball,
which begins moving. This explanation can also be applied to forensics. For example, when a red
car collides with a white car, we can expect to find white paint on the red car, and red paint on the
It is important to understand, however, that, while an investigator may find traces of a suspect at
the crime scene, this may not be sufficient to prove a case against the suspect. For example, if a
bank robbery suspect leaves a fingerprint on the door of a bank when he exits, this is not in and of
itself evidence of the robbery; it is only evidence that he has been on the scene. An investigator
needs additional evidence, such as witnesses, video, or proof that the suspect escaped with the
money, before making an arrest.
There cannot be discussion on crime scene security without mentioning locard’s principle.
Locard a French forensic scientist noted that whenever a crime occurs, no matter what the nature
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is, the crime scene is the most important thing that the criminal leaves behind. As far as forensic
science goes, the crime scene is the only biggest source of obtaining physical evidence related to
the crime. It is from the crime scene that a Crime Scene Investigation begins. For an investigator,
it is something that gives insight into the way the crime was committed and it is much like visiting
the footsteps of the criminal through the clues that have been left behind.
The Locard Exchange Principle is the basis for linking physical evidence from or to the
victim, suspect, and crime scene. Anyone entering a crime scene can alter or change the scene
and its evidence, so access to the crime scene must be restricted and, if possible, pre- vented
except for essential crime scene personnel. Any physical barriers like vehicles or tapes that help
protect the crime scene must be established as soon as possible by the first responders.
After scene barriers have been established, one officer shall be designated as the scene
security officer. He or she will be responsible for preventing entrance into the crime scene by
curious onlookers. A contamination log or security log should be kept to record all entries to and
exits from secure areas of the crime scene. Use of a multilevel security approach can
successfully prevent this important stage in the investigation.
Only in rare situations will the crime scene investigator be the first responder. After he or she
arrives, the first step is to evaluate the established secure areas and change them if necessary.
Unlike the way they are depicted on TV, crime scenes are often chaotic and difficult to secure.
There is so much going on and too many people coming and going. But if an accurate
investigation is to take place, you must properly secure a crime scene by following certain
1. Establish the boundaries of the crime scene. Determine an inner perimeter, the spot where
the crime occurred, and an outer perimeter, for example, the exit or entrance doors or
windows. There may also be an extended perimeter, an area where, for example, a
perpetrator may have tossed a murder weapon when fleeing the scene.
2. Mark perimeters with crime scene tape or police barriers.
3. Remove unnecessary individuals from the scene. Gather witnesses, if any.
4. Determine if there is any evidence present. If so, log it carefully.
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5. Record conditions of the area and anything that affects it. Write down time, weather
conditions, description of area and number of people, if any, present upon your arrival.
6. Release the crime scene after you complete all documentation, secure all evidence and
remove all photographs and sketches taken. Release should happen only when everyone
agrees that the scene has been adequately searched.
Crime scene security/approach
It is the responsibility of the first officer arriving on the scene of a crime to take first steps to
preserve and protect the area to the greatest extent possible. However the protection and securing
of the crime scene should involve all officers and persons involved at the crime scene. The
acronym S.C.E.N.E can be used as a guide in following the steps.
S- SAFETY; Safety Procedures and Emergency Care
C-CORDON; Secure and Control Persons at the Scene
E-EVIDENCE COLLECTION; Document Actions and Observations
N-NAME LOG LIST; Documentation
E- EVALUATE; Perform Final Survey of the Crime Scene
The safety and physical well-being of officers and other individuals, in and around the crime
scene, are the initial responding officer(s’) first priority of the first respondent is to Identifying and
controlling any dangerous situations or persons by ensuring that there is no immediate threat to
him and other responders through scanning the area for sights, sounds, and smells that may present
danger to personnel (e.g., hazardous materials such as gasoline, natural gas). He should Approach
the scene in a manner designed to reduce risk of harm to officer(s) while maximizing the safety of
victims, witnesses, and others in the area.
. Document the original location of the victim or objects that you observe being moved
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Cordon/sealing of crime scene
Defining and controlling boundaries provide a means for protecting and securing the crime
scene(s). The number of crime scenes and their boundaries are determined by their location(s) and
the type of crime.
Establish boundaries of the scene(s), starting at the focal point and extending outward to include:
• Where the crime occurred.
• Potential points and paths of exit and entry of suspects and witnesses.
• Places where the victim/evidence may have been moved
Sealing of crime scene may be through physical barriers (e.g., ropes, cones, crime scene barrier
tape, available vehicles, personnel, and other equipment) or use existing boundaries (e.g., doors,
Document the entry/exit of all people entering and leaving the scene, once boundaries have been
Establishing boundaries is a critical aspect in controlling the integrity of crime scene in that it
provide the area to be covered by the investigators and a warning to civilians to keep off
A crime scene security also encompasses identification of any threats to scene integrity, and
ensures protection of physical evidence. The investigator(s) in charge should conduct a
walkthrough of the scene to avoid contaminating the scene by using the established path of entry
and Prepare preliminary documentation methods of the scene as observed. This is done to ensure
that all evidence that may be compromised is immediately documented, photographed, and
Prioritize the collection of evidence to prevent loss, destruction, or contamination. This can be
achieved by the investigator(s) in charge and team members who shall determine the order in
which evidence is collected. The team member(s) should:
a. Conduct a careful and methodical evaluation considering all physical evidence possibilities
(e.g., biological fluids, latent prints, trace evidence ).
b. Focus first on the easily accessible areas in open view and proceed to out-of-view locations.
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c. Select a systematic search pattern for evidence collection based on the size and location of the
d. Select a progression of processing/collection methods so that initial techniques do not
compromise subsequent processing/collections methods.
Concentrate on the most transient evidence and work to the least transient forms of physical
Importance of crime scene security
Securing of physical evidence
Effecting arrest and making recovery
Confirming existence of a crime
Protection from further interference
Collection of information and intelligence
Corroborate witness statement
Crime scene reconstruction
So often members of the public brand investigation officers who come to scene of crime
with long coats and dark shades as ‘real cops’ or heroes who Have come to save the day.
While , cloud of malice and suspicion always hang over the first respondents often uniformed
officers who are often seen as either failing to prevent the occurrence of the crime, are
involved in the commission of the crime or are clueless . however the contrary is the truth , as
a successful prosecution depend on how the first respondent secure the scene. It is therefore
prudent that more emphasis and training on crime scene security should be given to officers in
patrol as the outcome of most crime depends on them.
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Crime Scene and Evidence Collection Handbook. Washington, D.C.:Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms, 1999.
Crime Scene Investigation: A Guide for Law Enforcement. U.S. Department of Justice Office of
Evans, Colin, (2008).Criminal Investigations: Crime Scene Investigation Infobase
Handbook of Physical Evidence. Miami, Florida: Metro-Dade Police Department, 1996
CRIME SCENE EXAMINATION METHODS/ CRIME SCENE SEARCH
Each crime scene is different according to the physical nature of the scene and the crime
committed. Consequently, the scene is thoroughly searched to develop essential evidentiary
facts pertinent to the offense. The actual crime scene search should not be confined to a
specific area, but extend along the path of approach and follow the line of flight of the
perpetrator. A search conducted in this manner will often uncover an item dropped or
discarded by the offender, which may later be instrumental in obtaining identification or a
conviction in court.
The Purpose of the Search
The crime scene search is conducted to uncover the physical evidence that will potentially do
Determine the facts of the crime
Identify the criminal
Aid in the arrest and conviction of the criminal
Crime scene searching
Prior to the search, the crime scene specialist should survey the crime scene and set limits on
the area of the search for the purpose of determining how to organize the search procedure
and to ascertain what assistance is needed. Before starting the search, the investigator and
crime scene specialist should note the locations of obvious traces of evidence, probable entry
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and exit points used by the perpetrator, as well as the size, shape, and condition of the area to
Once the crime scene examiner has gathered as much information as possible through the
initial assessment and completed initial photography the crime scene examination or search
As a general rule evidence of a fragile or vulnerable nature should be collected before material
that is less likely to be lost or destroyed. Thus, crime scene photography and sketches
should be done because the crime scene will change with passing time and the examiner‘s aim is to
make a record of the scene as close to its original condition as possible.
NB: When examining the scene, remember to apply Locard‘s Principle of Exchange.
Traditionally, there are three types of searches conducted at a crime scene: spiral search, grid
search, and sector search. The specific technique used is not as important as having the
process conducted in an organized and systematic manner. There are five (5) systematic
search methods normally utilized to search crime scenes. They include the spiral search, strip
search, grid search, zone or sector search, and the pie or wheel search. Let‘s look at each of these and
discuss how they are conducted
Spiral Search Method
This ever-widening circle technique is conducted with the searching officer starting at the
focal point of the crime scene or the center of the area, working outward by circling in a
clockwise or counterclockwise direction to the outside edges of the crime scene. A spiral
technique is a good pattern for a rather confined area. This works well in a small room. In
addition to using the spiral pattern in a room, it is also helpful to apply this pattern in layers.
This can be done as follows:
Visually search the top third of the rooms, as well as the ceiling. Police officers
typically do not look up very often, but should in the case of a crime scene. There may
be bullet holes in the ceiling, blood splatter or hidden items.
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Search the middle third of the room including drawers and cabinets.
Search the lower third, using the spiral technique. The floor and lower cabinets are
typically where most evidence is located.
The grid search is a variation of the strip search and is useful for large crime scenes,
particularly outdoor scenes. After completing the strip search, the searchers are doubled
back perpendicularly across the area they just searched. It is very time consuming, but
causes a very methodical and thorough examination of the area. It also has the advantage of
allowing searchers to view and search the crime scene from two different viewpoints, thereby
increasing the possibility of uncovering evidence not previously noticed.
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A strip search is typically used in outdoor scenes to cover large areas in which detailed
examination is necessary. It is a technique frequently used by archeologists when they search
a particular area. The strip search uses a series of lanes across the crime scene. This method
can be used by one person or a group of searchers. It is done as follows:
Each lane contains a searcher that walks down the lane parallel to the other searchers.
Once the searchers get to the end of the lane they reverse their direction and walk
back adjacent to the lane they just searched.
This process is continued until the entire crime scene area has been searched.
If one of the searchers finds evidence, all searchers should stop until the evidence is
properly processed and they receive additional information.
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Zone or sector search
A zone or sector search is used when the search area is particularly large and cumbersome.
The zone or sector search requires the crime scene to be divided into four large quadrants (the
four large quadrants can also be sub-divided into four smaller quadrants). Each quadrant or
sector is then searched separately as an individual unit, using the spiral, strip and/or grid
Pie or Wheel Search
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The pie or wheel search is based on the establishment of a circle surrounding the crime scene.
The circle is then divided into six quadrants in a pie-like fashion.
It should be noted that a combination of search patterns can be applied if the
circumstances of the scene demand it. The search should also be multi-dimensional
meaning that the examiners need to look in all directions including up and down. The type of
search applied can depend on:
The type of scene (whether internal or external)
The presence of a body (victim)
The size of the area to be searched
The type of terrain
The size of the evidence
The need to move objects
The number of skilled officers available
During the search of the crime scene the forensic officer must closely examine relevant
objects and identify their potential as evidence. Whilst doing so the examiner should consider:
Physical evidence that may assist with the elimination of persons or establish the
identity of suspects
Physical evidence that may assist with the corroboration of witnesses
Interpretation of any impression evidence
Relationships of evidence within the scene
Any sequences of events suggested by the physical evidence
Scenario development including alternative scenarios
During the crime scene search for physical evidence, special attention must be
directed to the discovery and documentation of impression evidence. Impression evidence is
often not readily apparent, therefore, each of the areas of possible contact between the
perpetrator and the scene must be carefully examined with the full expectation that it will
contain impression evidence.
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Point of Observation
Perpetrators sometimes observe a scene from a distance prior to committing a crime, or they
may stalk a victim in preparation for an assault. Such vantage points , which offer the
perpetrator a hidden viewpoint, should be searched for shoe or tire impressions.
Route to Scene
Take note of any contaminants (soil, dew, etc.). That may have collected on shoe soles along
the route used to approach a crime scene. These contaminants may be deposited at the point of
entry and within the scene.
Soft outdoor surfaces along the approach route may contain impression evidence that can be
collected and may allow for an interpretation of the number of perpetrators by noting the
number of different shoe sole patterns that are present.
Point of Entry
The point of entry is often a likely location to recover impression evidence. Contaminants that
have collected on the shoe soles are often deposited on interior surfaces upon entry. Pay
special attention to window sills, chair seats, desk and table tops at or near the point of entry.
Additionally, forced entry may have been accomplished by kicking in a door or climbing to
access a window. These surfaces should be thoroughly searched for impression evidence.
Route through the Crime Scene
A methodical visible search with existing light should be conducted anywhere that the route of
the perpetrator is apparent or suggested. Search for impressions in blood, grease, dust, etc. Take
note and collect any objects that bear indentations that may have been caused by being stepped
on by the perpetrator. Strewn or dropped paper items (envelopes, magazines, boxes, etc.) should
be recovered from floor surfaces to be examined for the presence of dust or residue
Following the search with existing light, a thorough search should be made using a bright
floodlight held just off of the surface to direct a beam of oblique (low angle) lighting across
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the surface. This should be done in darkened room conditions and may reveal dust or residue
impressions that were not otherwise apparent.
Point of Occurrence
This is the area in a crime scene that the focal point of the criminal activity is obvious. This may
be an area where ransacking has taken place, where a struggle with the victim has taken place, or
where the victim‘s body is located. Impressions may be deposited in blood or other body fluids or on objects
that have been displaced or knocked over. In murder cases, the victim‘s body and clothing are
a potential source of impressions.
Point of Exit
Recover impressions from the area immediately adjacent to the point of exit. This includes
impressions in soft exterior ground surfaces. Any surface that may have been contacted
during exit should be searched.
Escape Route from the Scene
Attempt to reconstruct the direction and means of escape from the scene. Be alert for other
evidence associated with pathways from the scene such as discarded weapons and other
Search for areas where a vehicle may have been parked, and recover associated tire
Searching the scene for evidence
The search for evidence at a bombing crime scene is critical. The crime scene will contain
important evidence for identifying the suspect and assist in the successful prosecution of the
crime. The exact method of searching will depend on various uncontrollable factors.
Investigation of the scene of a bombing is a time-consuming task that requires a considerable
amount of physical work and attention to minute pieces of physical evidence. The search is
also dirty work and will require the crime scene specialist to sift through large quantities of
debris to locate items of evidence.
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One person should be placed in charge of the collection of evidence from the various
collectors. Valuable evidence may not be admissible in court if a proper ―chain of custody cannot be
established. The location where any evidence is recovered must be documented.
The search for evidence should not be concentrated on only obvious explosive-related
physical evidence such as safety fuse, blasting caps, timing mechanisms, pieces of
wire, batteries, and explosive residues. This may cause other valuable evidence to be
overlooked. Other evidence to look for includes:
Hairs and fibers
Soil, blood, paint, plastic, and tape
Tools and/or tool marks
Writing paper, printing, cardboard, leather, and wood
Tire tread and shoe print impressions
The search of the crime scene should not be stopped after a few items have located. The
search must be well-organized and thorough to prevent the necessity of a second search.
The probable flight path of the bomb components should be determined to prevent needless
searches. Trees, shrubbery, telephone poles, and the roofs, ledges and gutters of nearby
buildings need to be searched. A search pattern should be established for large areas. A
satisfactory method is a line of searchers who move forward. The areas to be searched should
be charted to ensure a thorough search pattern.
Any items that are foreign to the scene and items that the searchers cannot identify
need to be retained. Small debris should be sifted through a 1/4" wire screen onto an insect-
type screen. These screens are usually placed onto 2 foot square wooden frames constructed
from 2 x 4 inches lumber.
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Due to the large number of persons involved with the bomb scene search and the amount of
evidence collected, an evidence log should be kept to detail each item collected, including
the date, time, and name of the person who collected the material. Using this log facilitates
establishing a chain of evidence and makes the inventory of all the evidence easier.
Crime scene is a location where a crime took place (or another location where evidence of the
crime may be found), and comprises the area from which most of the physical evidence is
retrieved by law enforcement personnel, crime scene investigators (CSIs) or in rare
circumstances, forensic scientists. Crime scenes may or may not be where the crime was
committed. There are different levels and types of crime scenes.
Physical evidence is any material objects, which play some actual role in the matter that, gave rise
to the litigation, introduced in a trial, intended to prove a fact in issue based on its demonstrable
It would be impossible to list all the objects that could conceivably be of importance to a crime.
Almost anything can be Physical Evidence. According to Lawrence Chow; Physical evidence is
Makinika Afrika International pg. 24
any object that can establish that a crime has been committed or can provide a link between a
crime and its victim or between a crime and its perpetrator.
History and Development of Rules of Evidence
Evidence is the means by which the prosecution tries to prove its case and the defendant tries to
cast doubt upon the prosecution evidence. Similarly in civil case this is through addressing
evidence that the claimant attempts to prove his case and the defendant attempts counter the
The rules of evidence were designed to control both the judge and the jury. They were also
intended to make the trial more businesslike and efficient. The evolutionary process that
resulted in our present rules of evidence is a reflection of both English and U.S. history.
In the middle Ages, glaring abuses of the trial process, such as the Star Chamber and the
Inquisition, developed. Strangely enough, the Star Chamber was originally developed to cure
abuses by the royalty. At their height, both the Star Chamber and the Inquisition became
obsessed with obtaining confessions. The noble ideal that a person could not be con- victed
solely on the allegations of others dissolved into a nightmare of torture chambers designed to
force the suspect to confess.
The earliest forms of juries differed greatly from their modern counterpart. At one time jurors
were selected based on their knowledge of the case. Unlike our present system in which jurors are
not supposed to have an opinion about the case prior to the trial, early jurors were only selected
if they had personal knowledge of the facts. Busybodies made
Examination of evidence
The examination of physical evidence by a forensic investigator is usually undertaken for
identification and comparison. The purpose of identification is to determine the physical or
chemical identity of a substance with as near absolute certainty as existing analytical techniques
will permit. The objective of a comparison is to determine whether or not the suspect specimen
and a control specimen have a common origin, by subjecting them to the same examinations and
tests. In a comparison analysis, the forensic investigator must not forget the role that probability
plays a determining factor in the discovering the origins of two or more specimens. Evidence is
said to possess individual characteristics when it can be associated with a common source with an
Makinika Afrika International pg. 25
extremely high degree of probability. However, evidence that can be associated only with a group
and never with a single source is said to possess class characteristics. Evidence, broadly construed,
is anything presented in support of an assertion. This support may be strong or weak. The strongest
type of evidence is that which provides direct proof of the truth of an assertion. At the other
extreme is evidence that is merely consistent with an assertion but does not rule out other,
contradictory assertions, as in circumstantial evidence.
TYPES OF PHYSICAL EVIDENCE
Fibers and Threads
Controlled Substances and Medicinal Preparations
Biological material - blood, semen or saliva
Soil and vegetation
Impression evidence – shoe prints, tire tracks or tool marks
Based on the concept on the "Locard's Exchange Principle" every time someone enters an
environment, something is added to and removed from it. The principle is sometimes stated as
“every contact leaves a trace”, and applies to contact between individuals as well as between
individuals and a physical environment. Law enforcement investigators are therefore taught to
always assume that physical evidence is left behind at every scene. This will be generally true, and
Makinika Afrika International pg. 26
the amount and nature of the evidence created will be largely dependent on the circumstances of
Examples ; finger print trace
The Role of Physical Evidence
• The physical evidence left behind at a crime scene plays a crucial role in reconstructing the
events that took place surrounding the crime.
• Although the evidence alone does not describe everything that happened, it can support or
contradict accounts given by witnesses and/or suspects.
• Information obtained from physical evidence can also generate leads and confirm the
reconstruction of a crime to a jury.
• The collection and documentation of physical evidence is the foundation of a
• Reconstruction is a team effort that involves putting together many different pieces of a
• The right connections have to be made among all the parts involved so as to portray the
relationship among the victim, the suspect, and the crime scene.
• If successful, reconstruction can play a vital role in aiding a jury to arrive at an appropriate
• Physical evidence can prove a crime has been committed or establish key elements of an
offence. Example: In cases of alleged rape, the victim‘s torn clothing and injuries may be
sufficient to prove non-consent.
• Physical evidence can place the suspect in contact with the victim or with the crime scene.
Example: Victims hair caught in the suspect‘s watch band.
• Physical evidence can establish the identity of persons connected to the crime. Example:
Fingerprints developed within the crime scene and subsequently identified to a person.
Physical evidence can exonerate the innocent. Example: In cases of alleged rape DNA
analysis of samples taken from a victim may clear a suspect.
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Physical evidence can corroborate the victim‘s testimony. Example: In cases of alleged
assault, minor injuries to a suspect‘s knuckles may corroborate a victim‘s claim that he was
punched in the mouth.
A suspect confronted with physical evidence may make admissions. Example: Stolen
property found in the suspect‘s possession.
Physical evidence is more reliable than eye witnesses. Observations made during violent or
stressful situations have often proved to be inaccurate.
Final survey of the crime scene ensures that evidence has been collected and the scene has been
processed prior to release. In addition, a systematic review of the scene ensures that evidence,
equipment, or materials generated by the investigation are not inadvertently left behind and any
dangerous materials or conditions have been reported and addressed.
The investigator(s) in charge should ensure that:
Each area identified as part of the crime scene is visually inspected.
All evidence collected at the scene is accounted for.
All equipment and materials generated by the investigation are removed.
Any dangerous materials or conditions are reported and addressed.
Law supporting crime scene investigations
Evidence means and includes all statements which the court permits or requires to be made before
it by witnesses, in relation to matter of fact under enquiry: Such statements are called oral
All documents produced for the inspection of the court:- such documents are called documentary
evidence. (sec-3 of Evidence Act, 1872, Act No-I).
Documents means any matter expressed or described upon any substance by means of letters,
figures or marks or by more than one of those means, intended to be used, or which may be used,
for the purpose of recording matter. (sec-3 of Evidence Act)
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Connectivity of Physical evidence in existing law- Provided also that, if oral evidence refers to the
existence or condition of any material thing other than a document, the Court may, if thinks fit,
require the production of such material thing for its inspection. Sec-60 of Evidence Act, 1872.
Investigation means- Sec-4(k)(1) of Cr.P.C. ―Investigation‖ includes all the proceedings under
this code for the collection of evidence conducted by a police officer or by any person.
In criminal law, physical evidence is king, it does not have bias and exists independent of the
hopes and wishes of anyone. This is why it is so very important for physical evidence to be
discovered, not contaminated and properly analyzed.
Physical evidence usually involves objects found at the scene of a crime. Physical evidence may
consist of all sorts of prints such as fingerprints, footprints, handprints, tidemarks, cut marks, tool
marks, etc. Examination of some physical evidence is conducted by making impressions in plaster,
taking images of marks, or lifting the fingerprints from objects encountered. These serve later as a
comparison to identify, for example, a vehicle that was parked at the scene, a person who was
present, a type of manufacturing method used to create a tool, or a method or technique used to
break into a building or harm a victim. An examination of documents found at the scene or related
to the crime is often an integral part of forensic analysis. Such examination often helps to establish
not only the author, but more importantly identify any alterations that took place. Specialists are
also able to recover text from documents damaged by accident or on purpose. American Academy
of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) describes physical evidence as anything from small evidences that
require a microscope to view to anything as large as a truck.
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COLLECTION AND PRESERVATION OF EVIDENCE
'Its a document or object produced in Court and referred to or identified by a witness in giving
Therefore the exhibit can be any object or document from a microscopic speck to a large truck,
which in view of the Crime Scene Examiner may bear some information that may assist the Police
or the courts at a later date in determining the sequence of events that may have occurred, or may
prove guilt or innocence of the alleged offender. This evidence is referred to as PHYSICAL
EVIDENCE, and this evidence should stand alone, to enable the courts to interpret that value of
the evidence on its own merit.
After completion of the crime scene documentation and intensive search of the scene for
physical evidence, the collection and preservation of the evidence can begin. One individual
should be designated as the evidence collector to ensure that the evidence is collected,
packaged, marked, sealed, and preserved in a consistent manner. No item of evidence will
be missed, lost, or contaminated if only one person has the obligation for this important
stage in the investigation
There is no rigid order for collection of the evidence, but some types of evidence, by their nature,
should be given some priority of order. Transient, fragile, or easily lost evidence should
be collected first. Some items of evidence because of location within the crime scene may have
to be moved or repositioned. If items are moved and new evidence is discovered,
documentation must proceed immediately. It is difficult to generalize about the collection of
What are Exhibits? Why Collect Exhibits?
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There are very few serious criminal cases that could be successfully prosecuted without the
presentation of exhibits to the court and members of a jury. Inevitably all criminals acquire
whether willingly or unwillingly, evidence in the form of exhibits that can be collected by
Evaluate each Potential Exhibit
Consider each potential exhibit and assess its value.
Is it likely to be useful as evidence?
Is it unlikely to be useful as evidence?
Is it of no evidentiary value?
No instructor can tell you what to collect and why it should be collected, as each case is different
and the significance of particular items will vary from scene to scene. However, when collecting
exhibits you should do so with an ―open mind‖. It is important to establish the relevance of
individual pieces of evidence, (eg. their position and how that position relates to the incident), as
this information must be passed onto the Investigating Officer, and ultimately to the Prosecutor
and the court. The evidence could be rejected by the court on the application of the defence
counsel if it is not shown to be relevant.
Beware of Hazards!
Before collecting re handling an exhibit the crime scene examiner should assess potential hazards
and take the necessary precautions before proceeding. Hazards could be physical, biological or
chemical. Avoid Contamination! Your exhibit may need to be examined or analyzed by someone
else. Therefore you should avoid contaminating your exhibit by wearing gloves.
Avoiding Cross Contamination!
Each item collected should be placed in a separate bag to avoid the possible cross transfer of
material from one item to the other. One exhibit in each container.
Exhibit handling and management is an area where all police organizations tend to have
weaknesses in their systems and processes. Nine times out of ten, these weaknesses will go
unnoticed, or cause no consequences for Police investigators and police management. However, it
is the tenth occasion that the content of this session seeks to overcome. Poor exhibit handling and
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management can result in serious criminal prosecutions being challenged and defeated on the basis
of handling, security and continuity of exhibits when presented to the court. There will be an
increase in challenges in relation to the validity and admissibility of exhibits throughout the Pacific
Region as communities and individuals become more aware of their rights under legal systems and
judicial and investigative procedure. As an outcome many police organisations and individual
officers are likely to suffer criticism and experience a loss of credibility and public confidence.
Whilst the handling and management of exhibits is not the most glamorous and interesting aspect
of criminal investigation and prosecution, it is a critical aspect and one that police officers,
supervisors and managers need to complete more thoroughly and professionally.
Traditionally police have always attempted to present the actual exhibit. Traditionally police have
always attempted to present the actual exhibit‘ relating to a crime to the court. The motivation for
this belongs to a belief that the actual item, viewed and considered by a magistrate, judge and / or
members of a jury, is far more persuasive and informative than a description offered in a statement
by the police, victim or owner. This is true to a certain extent, however, it is quite obvious that
large exhibits, or live exhibits have never been able to be presented to a court, and so the belief is
really only partially true! Where exhibits are personal property and are of some value, quite
obviously the owner/s requires them to be returned at the earliest opportunity, for this reason and
for the equally important reason that police do not need to keep and be responsible for valuable or
bulky exhibits for long periods, Do not keep exhibits longer than necessary.
There are sufficient means by which exhibits can be recorded and presented to the court, without
retention of the actual item. Photographing, fingerprinting or analysis as needed can be
undertaken, allowing return to the owner or disposal at the earliest opportunity as sufficient
accountability and continuity, two important ‗ideas‘ in terms of police investigations and exhibits,
can be generated to satisfy the onus (obligation, duty, responsibility) of presenting evidence to the
court. Photographers, Property Officers and Analysts, through tendering photos, sworn testimony
and Certificates are able to corroborates and confirm the existence of an exhibit and its relevance
to a case.
Only items of a unique or controversial nature need necessarily be actually tendered such as
murder weapons, implements used in armed hold ups or serious assaults, documents, defective
vehicle parts, money or other articles with unique or distinctive characteristics.
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At times, something seized as an exhibit might prove not to have any evidentiary value. In such
circumstances, there is no need to tender it in court. Return it to the lawful owner.
Obtaining evidence from clothing
The purpose of this is to look at the importance of preserving items of clothing from suspects and
victims of violent crime so that valuable physical evidence, which may be present on the clothing,
can be obtained. The evidence may be so small or disguised by the colour of the garment, that it is
virtually invisible to the naked eye. It is easily and often overlooked by initial response police,
investigators and medical personnel.
An offender and victim may transfer some trace of themselves, some trace of their previous or
immediate environment or some trace of an associated article such as a motor vehicle or weapon,
onto each other during the course of a violent crime. The types of evidence are many and varied
however, physical evidence from clothing can generally be divided into the following categories.
Victims Transported to Hospital
In cases of sexual assault or hit and run motor vehicle collisions, where it is believed the offender
may have suffered a bleeding injury and most other violent crimes where the offender and victim
have come into close contact, it is critically important to obtain the clothing from the victim.
It would be advisable to contact medical staff at the hospital as soon as possible and ask them to
preserve the clothing from the victim for forensic examination. Never assume the hospital will
routinely retain or preserve the clothing items from the victim. It is an unfortunate fact that most
medical personnel are not trained to recognize the value of forensic evidence on clothing. If
possible have the hospital staff place each item of clothing into separate paper bags and secure
them in a safe location. The clothing should be collected as soon as possible from the hospital.
PROCEDURES FOR COLLECTING PHYSICAL EVIDENCE
The very first thing that must be done at all crime scenes is securing the scene. Law enforcement
officials must limit access to the area/scene; this is done to maintain the integrity of the evidence
that may be at the scene. You don't want scores of people trampling on the evidence.
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Physical Evidence Collection Guidelines
Blood that is in liquid pools should be picked up on a gauze pad or other clean sterile cotton cloth
and allowed to air dry thoroughly, at room temperature. It should be refrigerated or frozen as soon
as possible and brought to the Laboratory as quickly as possible. Delays beyond 48 hours may
make the samples useless.
If close to the Laboratory, deliver stained object immediately.
If unable to deliver to the Laboratory, or if the object must be mailed, allow the stain to air
dry completely before packaging.
Do not heat stained material or place it in bright sunlight to dry. Hang clothing and similar
articles in a room where there is adequate ventilation.
If not completely dry, label and roll in paper or place in a brown paper bag or box and seal
and label container. Place only one item in each container. Do not use plastic containers.
Dried Blood Stains
On clothing, if possible, wrap the item in clean paper, place the article in a brown paper
bag or box and seal and label container. Do not attempt to remove stains from the cloth.
On small solid objects, send the whole stained object to the Laboratory, after labeling and
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On large solid objects, cover the stained area with clean paper and seal the edges down
with tape to prevent loss or contamination.
If impractical to deliver the whole object to the Laboratory, scrape the stain onto a clean
piece of paper, which can be folded and placed in an envelope.
Do not scrape directly into evidence envelope.
Scrape blood from objects using a freshly washed and dried knife or similar tool.
Wash and dry the tool before each stain is scraped off. Seal and mark the envelope.
Do not mix dried stains. Place each stain in a separate envelope.
Never attempt to wipe dried stains from an object using a moistened cloth or paper.
Standard Blood Specimens
Autopsy Blood Samples
Request that pathologist obtain the sample directly from the heart into a yellow (ACD) or purple
stopper vacutainer (some labs request both). In rare cases when no liquid blood is available, ask
pathologist to collect a section of liver, bone, and/or deep muscle tissue and freeze for typing. In
such cases, proceed also with collection of a secondary standard as described below.
Blood samples from Live Individuals
For typing purposes, have sample drawn into yellow and purple stoppered vacutainers. Note these
are distinguished from the BA tubes which have grey stoppers.
If the victim is injured to the extent that a transfusion is necessary, make an effort to obtain or
begin necessary procedures to obtain the pre-transfusion sample collected by the hospital. These
samples are not retained for long periods by the hospital, so it is important to act promptly. Also,
make sure that some bloodstained garment worn by the individual has been air dried and frozen to
serve as a secondary standard.
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Handling and Storage of Physiological Fluid Evidence
(Obligation under People vs Nation and Hitch that a reasonable and good faith effort be made to
preserve perishable evidence)
Stains and Controls
1. Air dry
2. Package in paper
Consider special handling of non-absorbent items on (metal or plastic). Any condensation from
thawing could disturb or destroy such evidence. Such items should be kept at room temperature
and submitted to the lab as soon as possible.
Liquids (generally standards)
Refrigerate, do not freeze standards collected in yellow stoppered vacutainers.
Submit to the lab as soon as possible.
Collect on a sterile gauze pad or swabs, allow to air dry and package in paper. Do not use plastic
Seminal stains are often, but not always, found on clothing, blankets, sheets. Allow any
stains to air dry, wrap in paper, and package evidence in paper bags. Do not use plastic
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For sex offense cases, the victim should always be examined by a physician. A Sexual
Assault Evidence Collection Kit is used to collect evidence from the victim. It is very
important that the instructions on the kit be followed with care in order to gain the greatest
benefit from the collected evidence.
Label all garments such as undershorts, panties, or other exhibits and package each
If damp, allow fabric to dry completely before packaging.
Handle fabrics as little as possible.
An examination of human hair can occasionally reveal the possible race of the individual
from whom it came and the part of the body from which it originated.
Human hair can be compared to determine whether or not two samples could have had a
common origin. The value of the Laboratory examinations of such specimens will depend
upon the amount of hair recovered and the characteristics found in the examinations.
Recover all hair present. If possible, use the fingers or tweezers to pick up hair, place in
paper bindles or coin envelopes which should then be folded and sealed in larger
envelopes. Label the outer sealed envelope.
If hair is attached, such as in dry blood, or caught in metal or a crack of glass, do not
attempt to remove it but rather leave hair intact on the object. If the object is small, mark it,
wrap it, and seal it in an envelope. If the object is large, wrap the area containing the hair in
paper to prevent loss of hairs during shipment.
In rape cases, the victim's pubic region should be combed prior to collecting standards.
Obtain known hair samples from the victim, suspect, or any other possible sources for
comparison with unknown specimens. The recommended method for collecting head hairs
is to start by having the person from whom they are being collected bend over a large sheet
of clean paper, rubbing or massaging their hands through the hair so that loose hair will fall
out on the paper. More should then be gathered by plucking them from representative areas
all over the head. A total or 50-100 hairs is desired. Do not cut the hair. This same method
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may be used to collect hairs from other parts of the body. 30-60 pubic hairs are required.
When the person is a suspect, hair should be gathered from all parts of the body even
though there may only be an interest in hair from the head at that particular time.
Fibers and Threads
Such evidence is often found in fabric abrasions or caught in torn materials or other areas
on hit-and-run vehicles.
In some burglary cases, it may be found caught in torn screens, broken glass, or other
Examination of fibers can normally be conducted to determine the type or color of fiber.
Such examinations will sometimes indicate the type of garment or fabric from which they
Fibers and threads can also be compared with suspects clothing to determine whether or
not they could have come from this clothing.
If threads or large fibers are found, they can often be picked up with the fingers and placed
in a paper bindle, then in a coin envelope, which can be sealed and marked. Never place
loose fibers directly into a mailing envelope since they can be lost from this type of
If the fibers are short or few in number, and if it is possible to do so, wrap the area or the
entire item containing the fibers in paper and send the whole exhibit to the Laboratory.
Pick up fibers on tape only if the laboratory in your jurisdiction allows it and gives you its
requirements. When fibers or threads are recovered, always send all clothing of persons
from which they might have originated to the Laboratory for comparison purposes.
In sex offenses, assaults, and some other cases, it may be possible to indicate or demonstrate
contact between two individuals or between one other individual and some other object, such as a
car seat, by comparing fibers. Such examinations are only of value when it is known no contact
occurred between the two individuals or an individual and some other object prior to, or
subsequent to, the offense. Extra care must be taken to keep each article of clothing of each
individual or other object separated. Each garment should be-laid on a clean sheet of paper, and
Makinika Afrika International pg. 38
separately rolled up in the paper after marking the exhibit. If the clothing of one subject touches
the clothing of another, or if it is laid down on the table of placed on the car seat contacted by the
clothing of the other suspect, the comparisons may be of no value.
Windows are frequently broken in burglaries, headlights in hit-and-run cases, and bottles or other
objects may break or leave fragments on personal belongings of suspects involved in various types
Recovery of Evidence Samples
Shoes and clothing of suspects or other objects contaminated with glass should be wrapped
in paper and submitted to the Laboratory for examination.
All glass found at hit-and-run scenes should be recovered. The search should not be limited
to the point of impact, since headlight glass may be dropped off at some distance away as
the car leaves the crime scene. Glass from different locations should be kept in different
containers. All glass should be collected because more than one type may be present. In
addition, if just a few representative samples are saved, individual pieces that could be
physically matched with glass remaining in the headlight shell of the suspected vehicle
may be overlooked.
Place small glass fragments in paper bindles, then in coin envelopes, pill boxes, or film
cans which can be marked and completely sealed.
Place large glass fragments in boxes. Separate individual pieces with cotton or tissue to
prevent breakage and damaged edges during shipment. Seal and mark the box containing
Standards for Comparison
Windows: If the broken window is small, send the whole window or all glass remaining to the
Laboratory. If the window is large, recover several samples from different areas of the
window. If the evidence glass is large enough for physically matching the broken edges or
Makinika Afrika International pg. 39
comparing the fracture lines, hackle marks, surface abrasions or contamination, the whole
broken window is necessary.
Auto Glass - Auto Headlights: All glass remaining in the shell should be recovered. If it is
suspected that a new glass has been installed, this should be removed and a careful
examination made for small chips remaining in the shell from the previous lens which is
broken. In such cases, also submit the new lens to the Laboratory.
Other Glass: When bottles or other glass objects are broken, recover all remaining glass.
Headlights and Taillights of Motor Vehicles
As part of the investigation of vehicle accidents, it may be of importance to determine
whether or not a headlight or taillight was illuminated at the time the light was broken.
Recovery of the filaments is of primary importance. These are quite small and their
location may require a careful search. If recovered, they should be placed in a paper bindle
or a small pill box sealed with tape. Whether or not the large filaments are located, all
remaining parts of the lamp socket, glass envelope, or sealed beam headlight unit should be
wrapped in paper and saved for Laboratory study.
Paint evidence is frequently encountered in hit-and run cases, on tools used by burglars, and
occasionally in other types of cases.
Paint may be transferred to clothing of pedestrian victims. Examine all areas, with
particular attention being paid to areas showing pressure glaze, tears, or other contact.
If found, do not remove the paint, but mark the garment, carefully wrap it by rolling it in
paper and send it to the Laboratory.
Such paint will at least show the color of part of the responsible car. It must be
remembered, however, that many modern cars have more than one color and the paint
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transferred only represents the color of the particular area on the car that made contact with
Rarely will an examination of paint transfer on clothing indicate the make and model of the
vehicle involved, since only portions of the top oxidized layer on the cars are usually
transferred. In addition, many vehicles are repainted using colors and types of paint which
may be different from those specified by the automobile manufacturer. The color and type
of paint selected by the car owner for repainting his vehicle may also be the same as that
used by a different automobile manufacturer, which could cause confusion in the search for
the responsible car.
Sometimes whole chips of paint will be transferred to the clothing. If these flakes contain
several layers, and in particular if they come from a repainted car, such evidence may have
great value when the responsible vehicle is located. Chips of paint may also be found on
the ground near the point of impact in some cases.
Obtain samples for comparison from all areas showing fresh damage on suspected
vehicles. This is very important since the paint may be different in type or composition in
different areas, even if the color is the same. If the paint can be flaked off by bending the
metal slightly, remove it in this manner. If not, scrape or chip the paint off, using a clean
knife blade. Carefully wipe the blade before collecting each sample. Collect all layers
down to the metal. Place each sample in a separate container.
Cross transfers of paint commonly occur in hit and-run cases of two or more vehicles. If
loose paint chips are found, attempt to remove and place them in a paper bindle. If,
however, the transfers are smeared on the surfaces, flake off chips or scrape paint from the
vehicle, including the transferred paint, as well as the top layer of paint originally on the
car. Keep all transfers recovered from different areas in separate containers. Do NOT place
samples directly into envelopes -- place into paper bindles first.
When cross transfers occur, always collect contaminated samples from each vehicle from
areas immediately adjacent to each transfer collected. This is of great importance, since
such specimens permit the laboratory to distinguish between the transferred paint and the
paint originally present on the vehicle.
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Tools used to gain entry into building, safes, or other places often contain traces of paint,
as well as other substances, such as plastic, safe insulation, etc. Care must be taken that
such traces are not lost. If such transfers may be present, wrap the end of the tool
containing the material in clean paper and seal with tape to prevent loss. In no case should
attempts be made to set the tool into marks or impressions found. If this is done, transfers
of paint or material can occur and any traces found later will have no significance as
Collect specimens of paint from all areas which the tools may have contacted at the crime
scene. These samples should include all layers present. Do not destroy the tool mark in
collecting the paint. If possible, cut out around the mark, and send it to the Laboratory.
The tool itself may contain paint or other coatings, tracings of which may be left at the
crime scene. A careful search should be made for such matters, particularly in each tool
Collection and Preservation of Paint Specimens
Keep all samples collected in separate containers.
Small paper bindles can be used to collect and hold many paint samples. A satisfactory
method is to tape one side of the bindle to the side of the vehicle, building, or safe just
under the area where the sample is to be collected. By holding the bindle open with one
hand, and using a clean knife blade, paint can be scraped loose and into the bindle. With-
the sample in the bindle, scotch tape can be removed and the open end of the bindle folded
several times. It can be placed in a coin or mailing envelope, which can be marked and
sealed. Scotch tape may be used to seal the bindle, but such containers should never be
Glass vials or other suitable containers are used only as a last resort.
Never place paint directly into envelopes unless large pieces are enclosed. Most envelopes
have unsealed cracks in the corners and loss or contamination can occur.
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The search for flammable fluids in arson cases should include a thorough examination of the entire
fire scene. This should extend to areas where no burning occurs, since flammable fluids may have
been placed in other locations where ignition failed.
Traces of flammable fluid may be found in cans at the fire scene in arson cases. Mattresses, rugs,
upholstery, wallboard, and other objects at the scene may also contain fluids which can be
separated and identified in the Laboratory, even though these objects are partially burned. Wood
upon which such fluids have been poured and ignited may still contain detectable traces of the
liquid, if the wood has not been completely charred by the fire. Even where a large and hot fire has
occurred, traces of such liquid are sometimes found where they have seeped into the ground
through cracks in the floor or flowed under baseboards and sills.
While most flammable fluids commonly used have characteristic odors, some substances
commonly available are almost odorless and quite easily escape detection. These include some
alcohols, deodorized kerosene, charcoal lighter fluids, and others.
If volatile liquids are found in open containers, pour a small amount of the material into a
clean glass vial with an airtight seal so no loss will occur. Do not use any rubber-lined lids
or plastic containers.
Small samples of soil, wood, cloth, paper, etc., should be placed in small, clean metal cans
and sealed immediately to prevent loss of additional volatile components by evaporation.
Large pieces of wood, upholstery, wallboard, and similar exhibits which will not fit in cans
should be placed in heat-sealed KAPAK plastic. Be sure the Laboratory has examined a
sample of the plastic from each order before you use it.
When the exhibits themselves can be marked, this should be done. In all cases, the package
or container should be marked.
Samples of flammable fluids normally present at fire scenes should also be submitted for
comparison with any material recovered from partially burned substances.
Samples of flammable fluids in the possession of any suspects should be submitted for
comparison purposes. This includes any clothing, rags, or other materials which have
Makinika Afrika International pg. 43
suspicious stains or odors. These should be packaged in the same manner as materials
recovered at the fire scene.
It is possible, in many cases, to isolate flammable fluids from various, partially burned articles
through means of gas chromatographic analysis and other studies to determine the type of
flammable fluid present. Normally, however, the manufacturer or brand name of the material
cannot be determined.
Never submit a loaded gun to the Laboratory, unless it is delivered in person. Unfired
cartridges may be left in the magazine of a weapon, provided the magazine is removed
from the gun. A firearm with the cartridge in the chamber should never be shipped by any
method, even if the weapon is not cocked or on safety.
Never clean the bore, chamber, or cylinder before submitting a firearm, and never attempt
to fire the gun before it is examined in the Laboratory.
Never pick up a weapon by placing a pencil or other object in the end of the barrel.
Record serial number, make, model, and caliber of the weapon, and mark it in some
inconspicuous manner that does not detract from its value before sending it to the Laboratory.
Marking firearms is important since duplicate serial numbers are sometimes found on different
guns of the same make and general type. Do not confuse model numbers or patent numbers
with serial numbers.
Place weapons in strong cardboard or wooden boxes, well packed, to prevent shifting of guns
Rifles or shotguns should not be taken apart.
If blood or any other material, which may pertain to an investigation is present on the gun,
place a clean paper around the gun and seal it with tape to prevent movement of the gun
and loss of the sample during shipment.
Makinika Afrika International pg. 44
If the gun is to be examined for latent fingerprints, use procedures under that title in this
Never mark bullets.
Wrap recovered bullets in paper and seal in separate labeled pill boxes or envelopes.
Submit all evidence bullets recovered to the Laboratory. A conclusive identification may
be possible on only one of several bullets recovered even when they all appear to be in
Do not attempt to clean recovered bullets before sending them to the Laboratory. Bullets
recovered from a body should be air dried and wrapped in paper. Washing may destroy
Wrap recovered cartridge cases in and seal in separate labeled pill boxes or envelopes.
Fired shotgun shells may be marked either on the inside or outside of the paper or plastic
portion of the shell.
If an examination is required to determine if a shot shell or cartridge case was fired by a
specific weapon, submit the weapon and all recovered unfired ammunition.
Submit all evidence cartridge cases or shotgun shells recovered to the Laboratory. Some
cases contain more identifying detail than do others.
Wrap each cartridge in paper to prevent damaging the breech clock, firing pin, or other
markings by contact with other cartridge cases. Place wrapped cartridge cases in envelopes
or pill boxes. Label and seal container.
Always attempt to recover unused ammunition for comparison purposes when firearms are
obtained as evidence. If not in the weapon itself, subjects often have additional ammunition
Makinika Afrika International pg. 45
in their cars, clothing, houses, or other locations. It may be important for test purposes to
duplicate exactly the make, type, and age of the ammunition used in the crime. Other
ammunition in the suspect's possession is identical to that fired during the crime.
Unfired ammunition should not be marked. The box with the ammunition may be marked
without marking every round in the box.
Powder and Shot Pattern
Submit clothing or other material showing evidence of gun powder residue or shot holes to
the Laboratory. The clothing should be carefully wrapped in clean paper and folded as little
as possible to prevent dislodging powder particles. Photographs of the pattern will not
suffice, as in most instances microscopic examination and chemical tests must be
conducted on the exhibits themselves. Package each item separately.
For gunpowder or shot pattern tests to have significance, it is essential to obtain
ammunition identical in make, type, and age to that used at the crime scene. This duplicate
ammunition is necessary for firing in the weapon in question to determine the distance of
the muzzle of the weapon from the victim or other object at the time the questioned bullet
Gunshot residue is extremely fragile evidence and should be collected as soon as possible
(preferably within three hours of the discharge of firearm). Use the laboratory-supplied
GSR kits and carefully follow the directions. In the case of live subjects, if more than six
hours have passed or if the subject has washed his hands, it is unlikely that meaningful
results will be obtained. If a body is to be sampled, whenever possible, gunshot residue
collection should be performed prior to moving the body. If this is not possible, protect the
hands with paper bags.
Serial Number Restoration
In many cases, obliterated serial numbers can be restored if too much metal has not been
removed in erasing the number.
Makinika Afrika International pg. 46
Always advise the Department of Justice in Sacramento if, after restoring the serial
number, the gun is to be numbered. If the original number can be restored, this is normally
restamped on the gun. If it cannot be restored, a new number is assigned to the gun and
stamped thereon by the Department of Justice or Numbering Station.
Nature of Evidence
Tool marks are encountered most frequently in burglary cases but may also be found in other types
of crimes. The evidence consists of striations or impressions left by tools on objects at the crime
scene and various types of tools found in the possession of suspects. In other cases, it is possible
by means of physical and other comparisons to prove that parts of tools left at crime scenes were
broken from damaged tools found in the possession of suspects. In many cases, it is possible to
identify the specific tool which made the questioned marks by means of a Laboratory comparison
of tools and marked objects. In some instances, it is also possible to prove that marks of various
types on tools were produced by objects which they contacted at crime scene.
Preservation and Packaging of Tools
All areas on recovered tools which contain transferred paint, building material, or other
contamination should be wrapped in paper and packaged to prevent the prying blades or
cutting edges .'rom contacting any other surface or object.
Make No Tests With Tools
Attempts should never be made to fit tools into questioned marks or to make test marks
prior to Laboratory examination. If done, the questioned mark or tool may be altered and
this may make any Laboratory examination valueless. In addition, traces of transferred
paint or other stains on the tool may be lost or additional material may be transferred to the
Preservation of Tool Marks
Whenever possible, submit the whole object containing tool marks to the Laboratory
instead of just removing the area containing the mark. If this is not possible, carefully
Makinika Afrika International pg. 47
photograph and sketch the area containing the mark. Although this photograph will not be
sufficient to allow the Laboratory to perform a toolmark comparison with the tool, it will
assist the Laboratory to determine how the mark was made so that test marks can be-more
Casts of tool marks can be made by a person who has had considerable experience in this
work. Poor casts are useless for comparison purposes and some marks will be damaged if
improper methods are used.
Pack the object containing tool marks so that no alteration or damage will occur during
shipment. Small objects should be wrapped with clean paper and placed in envelopes or
boxes, while important areas on larger objects can be protected with paper. Whole, large
objects can be packed in cartons or crates, if not delivered in person.
Controlled Substances and Medical Preparations
The Laboratory handles the analysis of marijuana and other drugs and medicinal preparations
which may be involved in criminal cases or found in the possession of subjects involved in various
Each sample of material recovered should be placed in a paper container, which can be sealed and
marked. Be sure to properly seal as loose material, particularly in the case of marijuana, can leak
and spill. Some drugs, like PCP, should be packaged in heat-sealed KAPAK bags.
Medicinal preparations found in prescription boxes or bottles should be left in these containers
which can be sealed and marked. The information on the prescription label may be of assistance to
By means of chemical tests, most controlled substances and common drugs can be identified.
Many pills, tablets, and other medical preparations are very difficult to analyze and identify unless
either large quantities are available for testing, or some clues are present as to the general type of
material they contain. In all cases where prescriptions are involved and the drug store and
prescription numbers are known, a check of possible container content should be made at the drug
store named on the label. With this information, the Laboratory will often be able to determine
whether or not the contents of the containers are the same as the material described.
Makinika Afrika International pg. 48
While controlled substances can be identified in routine cases, the Laboratory does not normally
attempt to identify all medicinal preparations which may be encountered in criminal
investigations. Unless specific instructions to the contrary are received, such materials are usually
tested only for common preparations and their possession may violate of the law.
All evidence of this nature should be brought to the Laboratory in a sealed package.
Questioned Material to be Submitted
All questioned documents involved in a particular investigation should be submitted to the
Laboratory for examination. This is important since questioned documents are identified by a
comparison of similarities, plus an absence of divergences or dissimilarities. In order to make an
identification, sufficient handwriting, typewriting, or other evidence must be available on which to
base an opinion. This means that all questioned material is needed, as well as sufficient exemplars
or known specimens.
It is very important to have sufficient handwriting exemplars for comparison with the questioned
document. One or two signatures on a suspect's driver's license or a draft card, in many cases, does
not contain sufficient individual characteristics on which to base a conclusion. In some instances,
such an examination may substantiate a suspicion and this should be considered as an
investigational lead. To support this, it is necessary to obtain and examine additional standards.
Collected specimens that were made in business transactions such as receipts, promissory notes,
credit and employment applications, letters, booking card, and fingerprint card signatures are
writings that, in most cases represent the individual's most normal writing. It is significant in many
cases that these writings be of the same date as the questioned document. It is important to obtain
request specimens from a suspect at the first interview; the suspect may be uncooperative at a later
The conditions surrounding the preparation of the questioned document should be duplicated as
nearly as possible when the request exemplars are obtained. If yellow-lined paper and blue ink
were used to produce the questioned document, the same or similar color and type of paper and
Makinika Afrika International pg. 49
instrument should be used. If the suspect document is a threatening letter and the note is either
handwritten or block lettered, the same style should be requested from the writer. Have subjects
write their names and addresses several times and brief personal histories. This should be removed
and another sheet of paper furnished.
Dictate the exact words and numbers which appear on the questioned document. This should be
done at least 12 times, removing the specimens from the writer's view as they are produced. If it is
a check case, the specimens should be taken on blank checks or slips of paper of the
same/appropriate size. The number of specimens necessary for an identification in any specific
case cannot be determined; therefore, at least twelve specimens should be obtained for each
When securing typewritten exemplars, several copies of the questioned documents should be made
on the suspected machine using light, medium, and heavy touches. At least one copy should be
made with the ribbon removed from the machine, or the ribbons set on stencil, and the keys
allowed to strike directly on a sheet of new carbon paper, which should be inserted on top of the
paper used for the specimen. This provides clear-cut exemplars of any machine's type face,
showing disfigurations in type characters. Always type the exemplars on the same type and color
of paper as that used on the questioned document.
Preservation of Questioned Documents
Under no circumstances should either the questioned document or the exemplars be
marked, defaced, or altered. No new folds should be made, nor should marks or notes be
placed on such material. Personal marks for identification purposes should be made as
small as possible on the back or other area of the document where no handwriting or
typewriting is present.
Whenever possible, all documents should be protected by placing them in cellophane or
Shipment of Evidence
Questioned documents may be submitted personally or left in previously described lockers
at the Laboratory entrance.
Makinika Afrika International pg. 50
Such evidence sent to the Laboratory by mail must be sent by certified or registered mail. If
there is a massive amount of material, it may be sent some other way, but the package must
always be sealed.
Where examination and decipherment of charred paper is involved, great care must be taken to
prevent any additional crumbling or breaking apart of the burned material. Normally it should be
placed on top of loose cotton in a box and delivered in person to the Laboratory. Bullets
Never mark bullets.
Wrap recovered bullets in paper and seal in separate labeled pill boxes or envelopes.
Submit all evidence bullets recovered to the Laboratory. A conclusive identification may
be possible on only one of several bullets recovered even when they all appear to be in
Do not attempt to clean recovered bullets before sending them to the Laboratory. Bullets
recovered from a body should be air dried and wrapped in paper. Washing may destroy
trace evidence and general type. Do not confuse model numbers or patent numbers with
Place weapons in strong cardboard or wooden boxes, well packed, to prevent shifting of guns in
Rifles or shotguns should not be taken apart.
If blood or any other material, which may pertain to an investigation is present on the gun, place a
clean paper around the gun and seal it with tape to prevent movement of the gun and loss of the
sample during shipment.
If the gun is to be examined for latent fingerprints, use procedures under that title in this Manual is
packaged, such material will be damaged if attempts are made to ship it by mail.
Makinika Afrika International pg. 51
Other Questioned Document Evidence
In addition to handwriting and typewriting comparisons and the decipherment of charred
documents, many other related examinations can be conducted by the Laboratory. These include,
but are not limited, to:
Restoration or decipherment of altered, obliterated, or erased writing.
Comparison of check protectors and rubber stamps with questioned printing.
Identification of embossed or indented writing or typing.
Comparison of paper and commercially-printed material, such as checks, coupons, receipts,
Physical matching of cut or torn paper of various types.
Problems relating to inks.
Marking of Latent Fingerprint Evidence
All such evidence should be marked in some distinctive manner, such as is the case with
any other type of physical evidence. Precautions should be taken, when marking evidence,
not to damage or destroy potential latent fingerprints.
Lifted, developed latents should also be marked or sealed in marked envelopes.
Photograph-developed latents with and without identifying markings and scale.
Preservation of Fingerprint Evidence
The primary precaution in all cases is the prevention of adding fingerprints to evidence, or
of destroying those already present.
Most fingerprints submitted will be on paper, glass, metal, or other smooth surfaced
objects. When articles containing latents must be picked up, touch as little as possible, and
then only in areas least likely to contain identifiable latents, such as rough surfaces.
Makinika Afrika International pg. 52
While gloves or handkerchiefs may be used to pick up such exhibits, any unnecessary
contact should be avoided. Although using a cloth to pick up exhibits prevents leaving
additional prints on the articles, the cloth will frequently wipe off or smear any prints
originally present, unless great care is taken.
Large articles containing latents such as glass, metal articles, and firearms should be placed
on wood or heavy cardboard and fastened down with string to prevent shifting and contact
with other objects in transit. Where such evidence is to be examined frequently, a pegboard
should be obtained on which wooden pegs can be moved as desired to support exhibits and
keep them from moving. Bottles and glasses may be placed vertically on a board and
placed in the bottom of a box. The base of the bottle or glass can be surrounded with nails
to hold it in place, and the top can be either inserted through a hole in a piece of cardboard
or held in position with a wooden board nailed to the container's lid.
Papers and documents containing latent prints should be placed individually in a
cellophane or manila envelope. Such a container can be sandwiched between two sheets of
stiff cardboard, wrapped, and placed in a box for mailing.
Preparation for court should begin long before the court date. Crime scene examiners who fail
to prepare properly should not be surprised when a skillful lawyer cuts them to shreds in the
witness stand. The culmination of any crime scene examination is to describe in court
observations made, actions carried out and evidence recovered. The crime scene examiner
should never take the trial and their appearance to present evidence lightly.
Following is a list of tips which may assist an officer to deal with the daunting prospect of
presenting crime scene related evidence in court.
Prepared – Be well-prepared for court by knowing your evidence well. Review your
notes, photographs, case file and exhibits and try and anticipate any questions which might be
Dress – Project a professional image by dressing professionally for court. Whether in uniform
or plain clothes ensure your clothes are neat and clean.
Makinika Afrika International pg. 53
Etiquette – Abide by the expected etiquette and rules of the courtroom.
Confidence – Be confident! If you know you did your best at the crime scene and whilst
preparing for court you have the right to feel confident.
Knowledgeable – Know your subject! A little research or revision leading up to the court
date will assist.
Demeanor – Be respectful to the court and the people asking you the questions.
Objective – Be objective and impartial when giving evidence by sticking to the facts.
Do not speculate.
Responsiveness – It pays to pause occasionally before answering questions but not too
often or for too long. The court expects a timely response to questions.
Clear and concise – Explain your answers clearly without needlessly over elaborating.
Explain in lay terms – Do not use technical terms which the court may have trouble
understanding. If technical terms must be used you will need to qualify them with an
explanation of their meaning.
Voice control – Your tone must be non-confrontation and the volume audible.
Body language – Be careful of your posture and body language. Do not shrug your shoulders
or rock or slump in the chair.
Eye contact – Your responses should be directed to the judge or magistrate not the
lawyer cross- examining.
Visual aids – Use charts or photographs to illustrate responses if you need to.
Limitations – Understand your limitations relating to what you can comment on and do not
extend beyond that boundary.
Makinika Afrika International pg. 54
CRIME SCENE NOTES AND SKETCHING
In ordinary language, the term crime denotes an unlawful act punishable by a state. The term
crime does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition,
though statutory definitions have been provided for certain purposes. The most popular view is
that crime is a category created by law (i.e. something is a crime if applicable law says that it
is).One proposed definition is that a crime, also called an offence or a criminal offence, is an act
harmful not only to some individual, but also to the community or the state (a public wrong). Such
acts are forbidden and punishable by law
What is a crime scene?
A crime scene is any physical scene, anywhere that may provide potential evidence to an
investigator. It may include a person’s body, any type of building, vehicles, and places in the open
air or objects found at those locations. “Crime scene examination” therefore refers to an
examination where forensic or scientific techniques are used to preserve and gather physical
evidence of a crime.
What can constitute evidence?
A fundamental principle of forensics is that every contact leaves a trace. This may be contact of a
person with a person, contact of a person with a vehicle or location, or of a vehicle with a location
etc. Forensic investigators identify those traces and analyze them to explain what has happened.
Evidence at crime scenes may include:
_ Biological samples such as DNA from blood, semen, saliva and breath, hair, fingerprints
and body part prints, urine, teeth