JSB284 Lecture Five Notes
Introduction to Police Investigation
What is an ‘Investigation’?
The term ‘investigation’ is a very broad term.
Applies to any line of inquiry and is a structured process to find an answer to defined problems.
For this unit we are only concerned with police investigations.
Police Investigations – Historical Context
The first detectives were known as ‘thief takers’ during the 18 and 19 centuries.
They were primarily private investigators who recovered stolen property for rewards.
Police Investigations Today
Today, the investigative role is carried out by police.
Police may be both uniformed (primarily during initial response) or plain clothed (to be undetected and
disguised when undertaking investigative role).
Other investigative agencies include:
o Crime and Misconduct Commission
o Australian Tax Office
Media Representations vs. Reality
Books, television, movies etc.
There tends to be a neat little crime in every book/show which has ‘just enough’ evidence to solve.
Always amazing technologies which help solve the crime within 24hrs.
The crime is always solved by the end of the book/show.
Reality is very different to this.
What is a Criminal Investigation?
It is a systematic endeavour with the following primary objectives:
o To establish whether a crime has been committed.
o To gather evidence with a view to building a prima facie (meaning ‘at first look’) case against a
o To identify and apprehend a suspect.
The Process of a Criminal Investigation
1. Define the problem
2. Collect facts and evidence
3. Present facts
4. Make a determination
Define the problem
Has a crime been committed? If so, what time of crime was it/nature of crime (based on first impressions)?
The initial response phase is the most important. The crime scene is still fresh and people’s recollections will
be most recent.
The investigator should call for medical help (where necessary); take notes on the details of crime scene;
take witnesses’ statements (beginning with complainant if there is one); record the crime scene (video,
photograph, drawing, notes etc); and collect evidence for later use (bag and tag).
Collect facts and evidence
Role of investigator is to uncover traces left at a crime sc