MALALANE – Although most people try their best to stay safe, chances are good that they will either witness a crime or be a victim at some point in their lives.
It is important to know what to do in case of such an event and how you can assist the police in tracking down the suspect.
Lilnda Goodenough of Fidelity ADT explains that the more information victims and witnesses can give the police, the quicker and easier the police can track down the suspect and the stolen goods.
Here are seven steps to follow after a crime:
- Notify your security company or closest police station. Indicate whether emergency medical assistance is needed.
- If you arrive on the scene first, do not let anyone but the relevant official enter the scene of the crime. Take great care and be vigilant as the suspects could still be at the scene.
- Taking care of injured people should be a priority, especially if the injuries are life-threatening. Try do disturb any evidence as little as possible. If the person needs to be moved, mark or note the positions in which they were found and move them to a safe area.
- Secure the crime scene and limit access to and movement from the scene. The door, gate or entrance should be locked or the area cordoned off.
- Get contact details and, if possible, statements from possible witnesses before they leave the scene. Witnesses should be encouraged not to discuss the incident, as it could influence what they recall. Unfortunately, if a witness does not want to be involved, their rights must be respected.
- When dealing with suspects, your personal safety should be your main concern. If you have managed to arrest a suspect, they must be removed from the scene and kept in a secure location. They must not come into contact with witnesses or victims, unless it is supported by the SAPS.
- Evidence is crucial. You are not allowed to take photos as only official police photographs will be allowed in court. CCTV footage should be brought to the police station. Any other evidence should not be touched or removed. This should only happen to protect it from damage or contamination. If it is moved, police have to be notified.
“Forensic work is highly detailed and often it is the small details one would never pick up with the naked eye that are invaluable clues. These should never be tampered with and sadly many cases are thrown out of court as people do not realise they have not followed the right procedures. Remember, every person can play an invaluable role in ensuring criminals are put behind bars,” Goodenough concluded.