301FIS Contemporary Issues in Forensic Investigation ”Major investigations may contain manycomplexes but crucial investigative aspects and issues. Critically analyse someof these differing facets and the impact they may have upon an investigation.
” Introduction: It’s fundamentally essential for any investigatorto understand the importance of a wide range of processes that are present in amajor investigation. The Senior Investigating Officer plays a fundamental rolein an investigation leading and directing all aspects of the investigationmaking strategic decisions with regards to the direction of enquiries. Inaddition, these decisions may be based and influenced by ethical issues thatmay arise ultimately directing the investigators’ understanding and ultimatelyaffecting the decisions made regarding the case. There are many areas ofcomplexity that can impact and influence a major police investigation.
Evidently, SIOs need to be aware of developing contemporary issues that canaffect and impact an investigation. There are consistent principles that an SIOshould follow in order to provide an effective investigation furthermore theyneed to be greatly aware of the developing investigation and consider each caseof the wide range factors and information that are presented in them. An SIO essentiallyneeds to effectively manage the opportunities and challenges which may bepresented in the investigation. There are many challenges within a mass ofcases that illustrate these areas of complexities, showing the degree of the intricacyand how they are able to impact an investigation as a result.
Theinvestigative process: A crucialaspect of the investigation is the investigative process requires the SIO toefficiently and effect??ivy manage the initial response to the investigation. Theresponse process begins with an initial crime scene assessment where potentialevidence is gathered and identified and then evaluated in regarding itsrelevance to case (Smith andFlanagan, 2000). Within in the initial crime scene assessment stagethere are many complex’s and developments that can arise from sourcingpotential evidence. The SIO of theinvestigation needs to have the aptitude and capability to understandinformation from the scene. Bentham memorably stated that ” The field of evidence isthe field of knowledge” (Bentham and Bowring,1843), what this implies that our existing knowledge makes sense ofevidence which then facilitates its operative state for a legal purpose.
Thisstage is crucial for any investigation as it foundation building blocks for anyinvestigation. Every single crime that is committed is differentiated from oneanother and no two are the same as every crime is different and has a uniquecollection and distribution of evidence. The integrity of evidenceplays a fundamental aspect of the investigation.it is understood now thatcriminal investigation is usually the only chance to identify and collect thematerial that’s required by courts to hear a case. Physical material enablesinvestigators to narrow down the possibilities and construct a hypothesis ofwhat has occurred. If material is not identified during an investigation, it isimprobable that it can later be recuperated.
If an investigator fails to identifyand detect material during the investigation phase it is doubtful that thesematerials will be available later on as a result it may cause difficultieslater on in the case as courts may find it problematic to assess the quality ofmaterial presented later on (Stelfox,2009).. The investigators need to tryto establish what has occurred, while at the same time preserving and managingthe scene and ensuring that the correct individuals have been alerted e.g. Scenesof crime officer (SOCO) and a pathologist (Smithand Flanagan, 2000). Making sure that all protocols are beingfollowed throughout, especially when concerning in Identification and preservation of evidence in orderto maintain its integrity. Assimilatingrelevant information at this stage is imperative, the SIO can begin to attemptbuild a picture, forming various hypotheses testing each one and choosing whichhypothesis is most likely to have occurred and looking at its justifications asto why.
The hypothesis formulated at this stage of the investigation must be capableof being turned into appropriate lines of enquiry, recognising whichinformation may act as a source of potential evidence and forming the ‘story’to case. It is the story that is presented, the position can be justified and theultimate probanda proved. Maguire and Norris suggested in 1992 that policeinvestigations were conducted and characterized by case construction ratherthan truth finding. Cases were then constructed based on the hypothesis thatwere formed as soon as an individual was suspected.
The investigation proceedingsthen soon focused on information that will support that suspicion rather than acontinuing the search focused on what really occurred (Maguire and Norris, 1992). As a result, there have been severalcases that consequently lead to miscarriages of justice due to investigators precipitousdecisions making. A study was conducted in 1992 by the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice from the research conducted themost occurring type of error in crime investigation was that of decisionsmaking within the investigations (Irving and Dunnighan, 1993). In the LesleyMolseed cases is a great example of miscarriage of justice due to the descionsmade at the beginning of the investigation. Stefan Kiszko who was an intellectuallydisabled man was wrongfully convicted for the murder of Lesley Molseed andserved 16 years prison sentence. West Yorkshire Police immediately framed thatKiszko fitted their profile of the kind of individual liable to have murderedLesley Molseed despite the fact that he had never been persecuted by the law.In addition, he had the mental and emotional age of 12 and had no social lifebeyond his mother (BBC NEWS, 2007).Consequently, due to the hypothesis made on the based on three young girlsreported that he indecently exposed himself just days before Lesley wasmurdered due to this information the police became doubtful of Kiszko’s uniquelifestyle.
Furthermore, Kiszko had a strange hobby of writing down registrationnumbers of cars that infuriated him coincidently he had written down the numberof a car later discovered in close proximate to the crime scene. West YorkshirePolice pursued evidence that would incriminate him as they convinced that hewas the prime and only suspect while ignoring other potential leads that mighthave resulted in a different outcome to the investigation. This contributed tohis wrongful conviction, this particular case is a great illustration of a casebeing conducted and characterized by case construction rather than truthfinding. Hypothesis that are formed are crucial for the development of theinvestigation which can change the direction of the case altogether. The investigativeprocess is flawed as it to opaque due to the fact the investigators developtheir options and bias as the case develops over time. During the initialcrime scene assessment stage the materials that are obtained help interpret, shape andconstruct the case.
If sufficient information has been gathered then theverdict is set in stone however if the fundamental evidence isn’t presented intime can be disastrous for the defending party. There are many factors that cancontribute the conviction of an innocent individual which include confirmatorybias in police conducting the investigation, false confessions due to investigatorsapplying huge amount of pressure on the individual for a confession, dishonestreports/witnesses statement made, non-disclosure of exculpatory evidence, cognitivebiases and prejudices of juries and also finally the media input in theinvestigation which helps form the decisions made by juries. All of these errorswere present in the Lesley Molseed cases.
Evidencewas suppressed in Kiszko’s favour wrongly convicting him of murder as he wasseen as unusual individual who was a social misfit that suffered from minorbehavioural abnormalities. Police applied pressure for a confession which waslater understood that pleaded guilty under duress. Therole of the media: Over the past decade the mass media has become animportant aspect in major criminal investigations.
Investigators encouragepublicity and exposure for on-going case in order to support and assist themwith acquiring more knowledge. A result it could be a crucial part of theinvestigation weather that is identifying an individual or help them comprehendhow the crime occurred, investigators strategically utilise the media to theiradvantage. TheSIO of the investigation needs to have the aptitude and capability toefficiently, ensure that media strategy for the investigation is robust enoughto ensure that they remain in charge of press releases and that they maintainownership and control. Investigators acknowledge the power of the media asa result utilised the power it holds. Most investigators view the media as amixed blessing (Stelfox, 2009).The relationship between the police and the media is “an enduring, if not ecstatically happy, marriage” as Sir Robertmark the commissioner of the metropolitan police stated in 1971. Most mediaoutlets are just interested acquiring material to provide information that isperceived as worthy news. That modern news is influenced by entertainmentindustry and that they are driven by visualising deviance as “Deviance is the defining characteristic ofwhat journalists regard as newsworthy” (Ericson et al.
, 1987). Ericson and his collagesconducting the study on visualising deviance, stated that the high proportionof news that is portrayed about deviance and control. The media portrays a distortedimage of crime through their selection of certain stories which are dedicatedto deviance. Murder cases especially those that containsuspicious death remain the most common crime that is portrayed in media andhighly likely to attract intense media and public interest.
Violent acts willstrong visual graphical impact are highly likely to tract the media interest. Correspondingly,the trends in the media imply a progressively threatening image of crime innews stories. This is compounded by the more negative and destructiverepresentations of the police (Mason,2003). In most major criminal investigations, crediblematerial is accumulated at an in the initial crime scene assessment stage,which later on provides a clear focus for the line enquiries of theinvestigation.
Evidently cases that accumulate relevant materials in the earlystages are distinguished relatively quickly. Only a minority of investigationsare complex when materials aren’t composed in the early stages. Then nextinitial stage for the investigation is to use the media as an investigativetool and release information, frequently this is last possibility when allother inquiries have been exhausted. Using the media is often an advantage when investigator have However, there is no assurance that a story will bereported in ways that has a positive impact to the investigation.
There havebeen incidents where a story has been reported in an uncooperative anddisobliging manner regarding the investigation. Simply due to the fact that it constructsa better story and is news worthy or isn’t reported at all because itsconsidered as ordinary and mundane. There is a danger when realisinginformation to the media as the case may be sensualised in ways that ultimatelymisconstrue the level of threat and the investigation. The Stephan Lawrence case is a great example howthe role of the media impacted the investigation. The media highlighted manycomplexities within the case and issues within the metropolitan police at thetime of the investigation. The case caused widespread controversy and becameone of the highest profile racial killings in UK history, evidently changing attitudeson racism and the police, as well as the legal landscape and police practiceall together. The media highlighted the issues of racism, professional incompetence,and institutional racism that was evident in the investigation.
The media’scoverage of the Stephen Lawrence case was positive impact to the investigationwhich allowed issue of race to be investigated. Stephan Lawrence was an18-year-old black man who was murdered in a racially motivated unprovokedattack while he waited for a bus in 1993. The Daily Mail accused and branded five white menof the murder on its front page in 1997 which caused controversy, as it was an uncommonpractice in journalistic reporting to accuse individuals of murder after thecourt has failed to do so. This act by the paper violated the journalisticethics however this was an advantage to investigation as it launched a campaignfor justice ever since the paper published the article. The article received attentionof the country which applied pressure on the police uncover more evidence whichwould lead to a full trial and possible conviction of the suspected killers.