Crime Scene and Physical Evidence Awareness

Crime Scene and Physical Evidence Awareness

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06 Mar 2013
9789211562842 (PDF)

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This manual aims at raising awareness of the importance of good practices in crime scene investigations and the nature and relevance of physical evidence. It covers issues related to the work at the scene, from the actions of the first responder(s) to the submission of evidence to the laboratory. As such, it provides the very basis for enabling more evidence-based reconstruction of events.
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  • Acknowledgements
    This manual was conceptualized by the Laboratory and Scientific Section (LSS) of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) with inputs from the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
  • Introduction and purpose
    Every incident, be it a crime, accident, natural disaster, armed conflict, or other, leaves traces at the scene. The goal of the subsequent investigation is to correctly interpret the facts, reconstruct the events and understand what happened.
  • The value of physical evidence and the concept of chain-of-custody
    Physical evidence can be anything from massive objects to microscopic items, generated as part of a crime and recovered at the scene or at related locations.
  • Planning, organization and coordination of the work at the scene
    Good planning is essential to the work at the scene. It includes gathering the maximum of readily available information by considering questions such as: What is believed to have taken place? What is the magnitude of the problem? Is any specialized expertise/medical assistance required? Are there any particular dangers at the scene? What other assistance might be required? Is the scene an indoor/outdoor scene? Is it a remote location? What local resources will be available? Who else needs to be informed? What equipment is required? What are the weather conditions? Other important aspects of the planning are: considering the nature of the incident, the context of the case, planning the expertise and equipment likely to be required, managing delays in attending the scene by ensuring its proper protection until the personnel and equipment arrive.
  • Types of physical evidence potentially present at crime scenes, and their evidential value
    This table provides an exemplary compilation of physical evidence that can be present at, and recovered from, a crime scene and of the information that can be obtained from its subsequent forensic examination. It also presents examples of cases where the different types of physical evidence might be encountered.
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