Crime scenes, what you need to know before investigating

For centuries, crime scenes have attracted an array of people. From the curious passer-by, media, wannabe crime sleuths and neighbourhood watch members.

But when it comes to crime scenes, is the general public interfering with police work? Are neighbourhood watch members and certain security initiatives proving more problematic at Newcastle crime scenes?

Newcastle SAPS spokesperson, Captain Jabulani Ncube explains that no one is allowed on a crime scene. Irrespective of the fact that they might be a family member or volunteer for a community safety initiative.

“Crime scenes are regarded as holy ground to police officers. No one is allowed to tamper with the scene in anyway,” he says.

But what if the police are not yet on the scene?

“If the police have not arrived and put on the police tape, people are not allowed on the scene. It doesn’t matter if your wife is a murder victim or you work for a security company. Not even an off-duty police officer is allowed on a crime scene,” emphasises Captain Ncube.

The reason no one, except the relevant police authorities are allowed on scene, is rather simple. Captain Ncube says evidence can be damaged through people walking around on the scene.

“A mere cigarette butt on the ground can hold the necessary evidence the police need. What will happen if someone walks over it and damages it?”

What about security companies and people who volunteer for neighbourhood watch initiatives who dedicate their free time to assisting in the minimising of crime?

“They are also not allowed on the scene. However, they can secure the scene from a distance to ensure no one enters the scene,” says Captain Ncube.

What steps will be taken against those people who enter crime scenes, who are not police officers?

“Any person entering a crime scene can be charged for tampering with a crime scene,” says Captain Ncube.

He also encourages the community to report these people to the SAPS.

Furthermore, Captain Ncube encourages community members to refrain from photographing crime scenes. Especially when taking photographs of deceased people.

“In the African culture, it is seen as inhumane to photograph a person who has passed away. As we live in a multicultural country and town, we encourage people to be considerate of others,” he concludes.

What are your thoughts on the situation? Do you feel neighbourhood watch committees, security companies and other community-based initiatives should be allowed on crime scenes to assist the SAPS? Or do you feel these parties hamper police investigations?

Share your views with us in the comment section below.

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