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-Gathering evidence

-Use of technology
-Search and seizure
-Use of warrants
Investigating crime
Not all reported crimes are fully investigated and
prosecuted, as resources are often directed to
more serious or high priority crimes.

The investigation process can often be long
because it includes:
Establishing a crime has been committed
Finding the offender of the crime
Gathering enough evidence to be able to prove a
case against the offender in court.
Gathering evidence

When a crime has been committed, it is the role
of the police to gather evidence to further the
investigation and to support a charge in court at a
later date.

It may involve:
Taking witness statements at the scene of a crime
Detectives looking at any evidence left behind
This part needs to happen quickly before
witnesses forget what they saw or before
evidence is compromised.

Gathering evidence
Crime scenes and evidence will be preserved
until specialists and detectives arrive.

Evidence is then documented in situ with video
and photography and meticulously recorded and
handled to maintain the integrity of the evidence.
In situ means in the place. Used to describe
the place in which a piece of evidence is

Evidence that is contaminated is known as
inadmissible evidence
Gathering evidence

All evidence must be obtained in a proper and
lawful manner as required by the Evidence Act
1995 (NSW). If it is not it may be considered
inadmissible at trial.

In some circumstances strict procedures will need
to be followed by police and in some situations a
court warrant may be required.
Gathering evidence

The types of evidence that may be gathered by
police are:
Oral testimony of the accused, police and witnesses
Physical evidence such as weapons
Witness accounts
DNA sampling
Tape recordings
Video surveillance
Electronic information stored on hard drives

Gathering evidence

Police officers must be specially trained or
independent experts may be contracted to assist
in gathering or examining evidence.

The evidence is often sent on to specialists to
analyse and may give evidence in court.
Use of technology

It can often be difficult for the law to keep up with
changes to allow the use of modern technology in
law enforcement.

Technology needs to be extremely reliable and if
there is any doubt about its reliability it risks being
inadmissible in court, or wrongful conviction.
Use of technology

Cross-checking criminal databases
Fingerprinting and DNA databases
Police surveillance teams record video footage and
Cybercrime units locate criminals through internet
Use of technology

DNA evidence has been helpful in both current
and cold cases.

In NSW police are allowed to take forensic
samples such as blood or mouth swabs to match
evidence found during an investigation.

A person must consent to the sample if they
refuse the police can apply to a magistrate for an
order to take the sample by using reasonable
Use of technology

There has been danger in relying too heavily on

See handout/media file
Search and seizure

Under Part 4 of the Law Enforcement (Powers
and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW), police are
given powers to search people and seize and
detain things in certain circumstances.

One of the most important of these is the power
to search and seize without a court warrant.

Powers of search and seizure are often the most
controversial of police powers. WHY?
Search and seizure

Police in NSW have the powers to stop and
search someone where they believe on
reasonable grounds that they are carrying
Used in commission of an indictable offence or
another specified offence
A prohibited drug
A dangerous article when they are in a public place

What are some challenges for police?
Search and seizure

Police may search anything in a persons
possession or control

Generally, police will ask for the suspects
cooperation. They can ask a suspect to:
Turn out pockets and remove bulky clothing
Pat down the suspect
Open their mouth or shake out their hair if they
believe an item is concealed there
Search and seizure

Powers of search and seizure and the rules
around them will differ where they involve search
of premises, school grounds or search of a
person already under arrest.

The Law Enforcement (Powers and
Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW) also contains a
number of procedures for police to follow when
conducting a personal search or a strip search.

These relate to the preservation of a persons
privacy and dignity during a search.
Search and seizure

Refer to case study:
Darby v Director of Public Prosecutions [2004]
Use of warrants

A warrant is a legal document issued by a
magistrate or judge which authorises a police
officer to perform a particular act, for example
make an arrest, conduct a search, seize property
or use a phone tap.

Part 5 of the Law and Enforcement (Powers and
Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW) sets out
circumstances where a search warrant can be
Use of warrants

When applying for a warrant, police must give
substantial reasons or evidence to the magistrate
to justify the use of the warrant.

Emergency warrants can be obtained over the

Use of warrants

NSW police are usually required to have a valid
warrant before they can enter and search any
premises, residential or business, without the
consent of the occupier or owner.

The warrant will:
State the reason why the premises is being
Identify what articles are being searched for

A copy of the warrant is given to the occupier.

Use of warrants

Usually the occupier is present and police may
videotape the search in order to use later in court
and to guard against claims of improper
procedures or the planting of evidence.

Police usually remove any items relevant to the
investigation. Some items may be returned to the
rightful owners, others may be destroyed e.g.
Weapons, drugs, after they have been used as
evidence in court.

Refer to the handout: example of a search