Contemporary Issues in
Forensic Investigation

investigations may contain many complex but crucial investigative aspects and
issues. Critically analyze some of these differing facets and the impact they
may have upon an investigation.”


SIO stands for Senior Investigating Officer. The role of a
SIO is to manage and lead all areas of an investigation. The Senior
Investigating officer plays an important role in the investigation since they
are responsible for all directions and all areas of the investigation for
instance making calculated decisions to follow up with enquires and manage the
case successfully. They need to effectively manage a team of Investigator and
specialist officers that are a part of the team.

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There are many aspects that an SIO needs to consider when in
concern with the case. They need to have a certain level of awareness of
complications and complexities that may be existent in an investigation. They
must require a certain skill set to efficiently conduct an investigation and be
able to analyse each stage of the investigation, its essential for an
investigator to recognise the importance of the procedures. In addition, there
choices evidently made may be built on the grounds of their ethical matters
which may affect the line of enquires. There are multiple areas which may lead
to complication that can impact a major investigation in the direction that is
not intended. Manifestly, SIO’s have to be alert when dealing with complicated
problems that can affect and change an investigation they must have certain
skills when accompanying in any type of investigation such as communication,
managing, critical thinking, problem solving, decisions making and
interpersonal skills.

The Media, finance and the impact it has
to the investigation:

There are different aspects that an SIO needs to be aware
when these strategies are implemented that they must have control of the case
as it may be hijacked by outside sources. Throughout the previous decade is a
vital factor in a criminal investigation. Investigators may use the media as a
tool to extract more information that could benefit the case when all enquires
of the investigation is at a halt due to insufficient information. SIO must be
able to manage the media and control as much as they can by effect communication
with the media. When media strategies are implemented the SIO needs to have can
efficient communication processes to avoid any problems occurring early on.
Furthermore, they have a responsibility of safeguard the confidentiality and
integrity of information of the on-going case.  The
media strategy should have clear aims and objectives resulting in a strong open
and transparent relationship between the investigators and the media press. The
SIO main aspects when in concern with the media, is that they need to build a
transparent, professional and strong relationship. A misinformed public and
media can lose confidence in the methods that SIO are conducting the case and inactivity
is undeclared. This is particularly important when a crime scene is retained
for an extended period of time. When conducting an investigation, the SIO must
be aware of the complexities when working with the media. The media are in the
industry of publishing stories that are deemed as newsworthy and sensualise it
as an effect. There have been many cases that have advantages and disadvantage
when operating the media as a tool for gathering additional information when
all other methods have failed.

In the madeleine McCann case the investigation has been a
global sensation with coverage all around the world which still revives
attention to this day. Madeleine McCann disappeared from her bedroom in a
holiday resort in Portugal in 2007. Since her case was disclosed to the media
for information on her last movements and what has led to the disappearance. The
media has been an benefit to the police investigation as it attracted a massive
media coverage which allowed additional resources to assist in the enquiry. The
police and the media have a difficult relationship as Sir Robert mark stated in
1971 that “an enduring, if not ecstatically happy marriage”. The police
and the media have to work together in cooperation to achieve their goals they
set out to meet. The police require information from the general public and the
media need newsworthy material to publish in regard to the public demands. The
media is a part of the entertainment industry has very strong principles when
publishing stories, they need to have one of the following characteristic such
as novelty, danger or tragedy which will have an impact on the reader.

High profile cases that attract the media the SIO needs to
be able to respond accordingly with the investigation the police are constantly
being reviewed as there are many challenges and barriers that could affect an
investigation. In the recent times the media interest has also turned their
attention to the criticism of the SIO and police officer conducting an
investigation. The SIO of the investigation is held accountable for decisions
that the beginning of the investigation and also the way the investigation is
conducted. The media is used as a tool when all other lines of enquiry are not considered
to be heading in any direction and it is at a standstill where funding or
information is insignificant.

It is estimated that the police have already spent almost 11
million on the investigation only recently the police requested more funding
for significant line of inquiry. Investigators in this case recognise the
control of the media accordingly developed a strategy control to hold the case.
From this this they were able to keep the Madeline McCann case in the media and
attract an intense attention that is still on going. However high intense media
coverage can lead to new outlets to sensualise a case and report inaccurate
facts which can damage the case.  In the
Naomi Oni case the police accused her of being dishonest when she stated she
was stalked by an attacker who which then threw acid in her face which resulted
in her face being disfigured.  The police
formed this opinion and hypnosis in the early stages of the investigation, when
they searched her laptop which they saw a google search for Katie Piper who is
also an acid victim survivor. From this the media then formed falsified stories
on how Naomi had planned her own attack. Due to the false stories made her
attacker Miss Konye falsified her story to the media stories that were
published. Once the police followed all lines of inquiry they finally, manage
to follow Naomi statement they were able to retrieve CCTV which shows Miss
Konye following Naomi right after she finished work. Once caught and arrested she
fabricated a story that Naomi insisted that she conduct this act on her as it
was what she wanted. There are dangers when realising information to the public
as the media may fabricate the stories in order to sell more stories and be deemed
as interesting and fascinated. 

An additional case that the media was involved was in the
Shannon Mathews investigation where policed needed to retrieve more information
from the public, so that they are able follow new inquires which may lead
discovery of Shannon Mathews. The media played both and advantage and
disadvantage which had an impact in the investigation. The intense media
coverage allowed more finances to be funded for more resourced to be used. As a
result, extensive searches were conducted making it one of the largest
operations to be conducted since the Yorkshire ripper. The case involves 300
officers involved in the search, 800 CCTV cameras to be searched and computer
hard drives were examined. Every available individual was involved in the
search such as firearm officers, dog handlers, special police officers and
rescue workers. This cost the West Yorkshire police department 3.2 million (BBC
NEWS, 2008). In this case investigators were keen to get all the media cover
obtainable. However there disadvantage when using the media as a tool in this
case the media began surface in a different direction. They began to
investigate on her mother’s Sharon Mathews life they began to publish stories
on her past and family background rather than focusing on Shannon who was still
abducted. The media began to make judgements on her as a mother and the
non-nuclear family lifestyle as they were from a deprived area. The media didn’t
tolerate the fact that that she lived in a council house which was regarded as
unacceptable. Prejudgments were formed as she wasn’t middle class and the media
response wasn’t as effective compared to madeleine McCann case.  Conversely due to media coverage on her past
and behaviours suspicions began to surface as to why she doesn’t seem to care
for her daughter’s safety. Police then became to pursue her mother when Michael
Donovan took Shannon to a police station where he supposedly found and came to
collect the reward money. After police finished the investigation they found
out that drugged up and kidnaped by own mother. 

Funding is a fundamental aspect to an investigation. There
are 43 police forces in England in and wales. England and Wales the police
funding paid though the Police Grant Report which was £7.4 billion in 2015.  The Home Office provides capital grant to
police forces which is accessible through the home office Police Grant Report.
It was vital that an SIO is able to manage funds so that their investigations
are able to have access to resources and materials to help aid with enquires.
Over a period of the next few years there will be a high police funding cuts
which will lead to less resources being able to be obtainable due to the drop
of officers that will drop after the formed. In the future 2020, this cut will
impact Scotland and yard being incapable to aid some services as they will face
financial situations. The met Police are biggest police force in the UK, the
cuts will impact crimes by discontinuing investigating lower level crimes such
as thefts, burglaries, some assaults. This is due to the fact there is a weight
set on amount of resources as its not efficient for investigators to take a
large amount of time to investigate the crimes where the amount of damage or
the object is under the worth of 50 pounds alternatively the witness not
prepared to aid in a court case. There is one crucial case that almost
bankrupted the Gloucester police is the Fred West investigation which was one
of the largest investigations in British history. Gloucester police spent over
their budget which leads them to bankruptcy. The case needed large amounts of
money due to officers, equipment, resources. The Case itself contained many
young women’s death; bodies were discovered at the property, being so may
deaths it had taken a lot of money out of the budget more than the police force
has. The cases mentioned prior are an example on how some of the biggest
investigations need a large amount of funding in order for lead them successful
investigations. Investigators need to maintain and manage order with funding.
Although there have been investigations that have taken out large amount of
funds, leading to bankruptcy.

In conclusion, the media plays a big role in leading the
direction of the investigation. The SIO needs to consider the effects of the
media and how that might affect the victim or there families as a result of the
case being published to the public. The SIO need to think about how the media
may publish an article especially in a case of serial murders as lies and
misconceptions are published evidently glamourizing the suspect.


The materials that are obtained in the
initial stages:

The early stages of major incident investigation most
critical and important aspect of the case is the initial stage as it begins to
construct the case due to materials found in the beginning. The SIOs must assess
and respond according to the material that are available. Challenges and
complexes begin to arise at the early stages as materials are being sourced and
evaluated.  The SIO must be aware of the
different variants in the kind of information produced in each case. Each case
differs meaning that the acquired materials may be difficult to source such as
witness, suspects any other leads that have information that may deemed to be
useful. In homicide cases suspect have been known to withhold information
regarding the case.

The Fred west case is a great example of where he intensively
lied to police during the interview stage. Once Fred west admitted to the
killing of his daughter Heather as a result he buried her in the garden. However,
he later declared that heather was not in fact under the patio but instead was
working for a drugs cartel. From then he continued to disclose immense lies which
resulted in police team to search more bodies at the property, which required
more recourse to be used. Investigators as a result became worried that there could
have been more killings as Fred west claims to have been more. The
investigators of the case were criticised due to the fact they failed to
investigate the full claims that Fred west committed more than the 12 bodies
that were found and there could possibly be more bodies. The police disproved
and criticized the media outlets of the case they are broadcasting Fred west
false confessions and were dangerously of glamorising him in the media format. In
conclusion when viewing the Fred west case, it’s a great example how withheld
information can impact a case especially in the initial stages of the case
which helps construct the case.

The SIO needs to be able to form hypothesis to have a sense
on what they are dealing with and begin to form their line of enquires. The
hypothesis is formed at this stage to make sense of the case on how things
ensued and occurred.  From the hypothesis
being formed they are then able to follow up lines of enquiry.  In many cases SIO will reflect questions and
answers that are exposed from the provided material that is gathered.  However, in many investigations gaps that
cannot be filled so the investigator must form hypothesis on these gaps. Many complexes
can arise from the formation of a hypothesis which can lead to miscarriage of
justice. The Stephen Downing case
in an example of which a man 17 years old was wrongfully accused of murder of a
32-year-old Wendy Sewell. This case has been stated to be the longest miscarriage
of justice in British history as Stephan downing served 27 years behind bars. Sewell
was attacked, beaten and left for dead at a Cemetery, where she was found by
Stephan. The police were unable to find another suspect to link them to the
crime as a result weren’t able to eliminate Stephan. Due to the fact that Stephan
clothes were covered in blood the police accused him of lying when he denied
all allegations.  Stephan had learning
difficulties which resulted him having the reading age of an 11-year-old, consequently
after nine hours of integration he signed a confession without the presence of
a lawyer. Many investigations become complex and difficult when the investigation is intensely just solely concentrated on the information
that is in front of the investigators, which as a result support there
hypothesis rather than looking at all possible lines of enquires.


The SIO of an investigation much have the required skills
sets that are needed when constructing a case, they must have implemented an
investigative mind-set which allows them to explore the developing hypotheses
that are formed in the early stage when materials are being interpreted. The amount
of material obtained and gathered during the initial stages help form the
different elements to the case help build a story to the case. Considerations
in the early stages of the investigation must be explored complexities and
problems may begin to arise and cause barriers. The SIO must always keep an
open mind when conducting these investigations and they must be portrayed as
conducted in accordance to the law as they have the ultimate responsibility of
the case. 


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