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SIO Corner: Trace, Interview & Elimination

Thursday, 16 October 2014

In this series, we preview sections of Blackstone's third edition of the Senior Investigating Officers' Handbook. This book provides invaluable insight about the essential skills and responsibilities that a senior investigating officer needs to manage serious crime investigations, from the initial response through to crime scene examination and investigative strategies. PoliceOracle.com readers can enjoy a 20 per cent discount on the book with our special offer code at the end of the article.

This week, we focus on Trace, Interview and Eliminate (TIE) procedures.

Trace, Interview and Eliminate (TIE) procedures can be perceived as intrusive, which is not surprising as they are intended to be, which may leave subjects feeling they are under suspicion. This may conflict with an objective aimed at securing the willing cooperation of individuals, witnesses, groups and communities. 

Cultural and language barriers may provide further confusion. Therefore there may be a need to tactfully explain the process (avoiding use of police or legal jargon) and what each element means and why it is necessary. The process will be made that much simpler if there is willing agreement and cooperation.

The Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) is a further consideration when conducting TIE enquiries. Intrusive elimination activities can lead to potential breaches of human rights and the Article 8 legal right to respect for private and family life.

A breach is only permissible if absolutely necessary, proportionate and justifiable and in the interests of national security, public safety, economic well-being of the country, prevention of crime and disorder, health, morals or protection of the rights and freedoms of others (HRA, Article 8).

Each TIE criterion needs to be justified and necessary, e.g. if there are no fingerprints at any crime scene there may be no justifiable reason to take them as part of the elimination process. TIE actions need to be carefully managed and only raised either directly or in the name of and under the authority of the SIO. This is because:

• They are time and resource consuming, often requiring two members of staff to complete due to the amount of work and corroboration requirements;

• Research may be required to produce risk assessments/control strategies (e.g. if subjects have violent and/or criminal backgrounds, concerning character traits, lifestyles or associates);

• Enquiries need to be conducted to a very high standard, otherwise mistakes can happen and offenders wrongly eliminated;

• Thorough processes means more intrusiveness for those who are TIE subjects

Recording TIE Policy

Devising a TIE policy should be an early consideration, with the associated decision and reasoning recorded in a policy file. A strategy entry should be well considered and clear in its purpose. To comply with the HRA it has to be considered whether categories that lead to the inclusion of individuals as TIE subjects and any requirements of the elimination process are justifiable, proportionate and necessary.

It is vitally important not to allow terminology to get confused or misinterpreted. For example, wrongly substituting the term ‘subject’ with the stronger term ‘suspect’ will present obvious complications and legal challenges.

Careful checks should be made to ensure the correct wording is consistent in official records and used by other agencies that become involved in the investigation, including representatives of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

A TIE ‘subject’ means something entirely different from a ‘suspect’, for which entirely different processes may apply, such as potential arrest, cautioning, custody detention, legal representation and formal interview under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE).

About the authors

Former Detective Superintendent Tony Cook was a career detective and senior investigating officer with Greater Manchester Police until he retired in 2009. He is currently a PIP Level 3 and 4 Regional SIO Advisor with the National Crime Agency.

Andy Tattersall, formerly Detective Superintendent in Greater Manchester Police on the Force Major Incident Team, retired in 2007 after 33 years' service and became the first ever Support Staff SIO in charge of a new Homicide Support Unit.

Blackstone's Senior Investigating Officers' Handbook is designed specifically to meet the quick-reference needs of any officer conducting a serious investigation. The only portable step-by-step guide to the processes and actions involved in the role of a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO), it explains all the relevant procedures and instructions integral to the position in a clear and accessible style.

For more details, click herehttp://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199681839.do


Buy directly from the Oxford University Press website and enter the discount code ALPOLORH14 at the checkout to receive an exclusive 20% discount on the Senior Investigating Officers' Handbook.