Investigating Crime

Investigating Crime: Gathering Evidence, Use of Technology, Search And Seizure, Use of Warrants

·         Gathering Evidence

·  Evidence is the main tool used by the prosecution used to convict offenders.

·  Physical (clothes, weapons), electronic (photographs, records), or witnesses statements (things seen and/or heard).

·  Police investigate the matter further and gather relevant evidence e.g. interviews, list of stolen property, fingerprints, physical evidence

·         Use of Technology

·  Surveillance technology has assisted in the investigation and prevention of crime, used to identify criminals.

·  DNA is also used for the identification of people, yet there are strict regulations on the use of this technology, outlines in the Crimes (Forensic Procedures) Act 2000 (NSW).

·  Police sometimes use technology to gather and asses evidence e.g. phone taps, video surveillance, DNA collection and analysis, use of data banks, such as COPS

·         Search and Seizure

·  The Police Powers (Drug Detection Dogs) Act 2001 (NSW) gives the police the power to use sniffer dogs

·  It is argued that this is a breach of the civil liberties of people à link to reasonable grounds.

·  The dogs are used at large events, used to search people for illegal articles, mainly illicit drugs.

·  The power of search and seizure means that police and other people, such as customs officers, have the power to search people and their belongings or premises and to take away property that is illegally held or is to be used in evidence

·         Use of Warrants

·  A warrant is written authorisation issued by a judge or magistrate, giving power to the police to act.

·  Search warrants are used to investigate certain areas, or to carry some other purpose, such as tapping telephone calls.

·  Police can enter a premise without a warrant in some circumstances (when they suspect  criminal activity occurring, or domestic violence is occurring).

·  Reasonable suspicion does not need to be shown and force may be used.

·  A warrant is a written authorisation issued by a judge or magistrate which gives the police power to take the action authorised by it. This could be to arrest the person named on the warrant or to search the premises.

·  Police can enter premises without a warrant in some circumstances, such as when they wish to arrest a person reasonably suspected to having committed a crime. They have reason to believe, on reasonable grounds that a domestic violence offence has occurred.


Extract from Legal Studies Stage 6 Syllabus. © 2009 Board of Studies NSW.