What is the purpose of an area canvass?
A methodically conducted area canvass presents a high likelihood of identifying or contacting the offender, an associate of the offender, significant witnesses, identifying evidence or exhibits and establishing significant facts.
What are the responsibilities of the OC Area Canvass?
They report to the OC Investigation and together must ensure the canvass is conducted thoroughly and recorded accurately. The OC Area Canvass must ensure the area canvass team remains focused and that the canvass results in efficient use of resources and the return of relevant and manageable information and material.
What are some of the main objectives of an area canvass?
- identifying the offender
- identifying and locating evidence
- identifying witnesses
- gathering information
What are some of the other benefits of conducting an area canvass?
- sightings of the victim or offender before or after the event
- sightings of relevant property or vehicles
- sightings of potential witnesses
- creating the opportunity for an early arrest through early identification of the offender
- obtaining key information to drive the investigation or develop lines of enquiry
- promoting awareness of significant occurrences
- eliminating unidentified vehicles or persons reported by other witnesses
- obtaining an accurate record of the local community
Why must an area canvass be reviewed regularly?
As new evidence is gathered the facts and circumstances change and so the same or different areas may need to be covered.
What should occur before an area canvass commences?
An initial appreciation should be conducted to determine whether a full area canvass phase is required and the method and timing of enquiries to be made.
What are the timings of the initial area canvass phase?
An initial area canvass will normally be conducted when Police first attend the incident. A formal area canvass will normally follow and re-visits are generally required.
A good time to conduct the canvass is the time at which the offence occurred.
What is the key to effective management of resources in an area canvass?
Planning and foresight.
What are some relevant sites to conduct an area canvass?
- premises within the line of sight of scenes
- access and egress routes to and from scenes
- areas where an offender may have lain in wait
- location where the victim was last seen alive
- locations or premises frequented by the victim
- locations of similar or previous incidents identified by intelligence as having occurred in the same locality as the offence under investigation.
Who can be used when setting parameters for an area canvass?
Specialist Police units such as the Behavioural Science Unit or criminal or geographic profilers
Once the location parameters are set, intelligence systems should be analysed to establish whether there are any people or events in the area which those carrying out the enquiries should be aware of. This may include
- violent offenders
- persons wanted by police for other crimes or wanted on warrant
- groups with particular linguistic or cultural needs
- local incidents or issues which residents may raise with Police
In relation to an area canvass, what time parameters shout be set?
- the offence
- the scene
- previous residents and visitors at the scene
- consideration of people’s varying work times.
People residing or working in the area of the offence may have relevant information. These witnesses may be peripheral or significant to the investigation and may include people who have witnessed:
- events connected to an incident under investigation
- sightings of the victim or offender before or after the event
- sightings of other potential witnesses
- sightings of relevant property or vehicles.
What resources should the OC Area canvass try to obtain?
- suitable street maps and aerial photographs showing houses and the location of sections
- geological information
- local council records
- other applicable references
To ensure relevant information is gathered in a consistent manner during an Area Canvass, investigators should use what?
a prescribed questionnaire to incorporate the circumstances of the particular offence.
The standard questionnaire Form A and Form B are recommended.
What sort of record should the OC area canvass keep?
A detailed master record of progress should be continually maintained and updated by the OC Area Canvass.
What key points should the OC area canvass cover in a briefing?
1 - Summarise the situation and detail the duties and areas of responsibility of each canvass team member
2 - Emphasise the need for thoroughness and that every person in every household and visitors must be seen personally.
3 - Stress that the questionnaire is only a guide and should be regarded as flexible in that information supplied could lead to other questions.
4 - Advise that evidence of possible probative value must be obtained in a formal written statement rather than notebook form.
5 - Consider visiting the canvass area to record every address including flats and vacant sections and then reconcile these premises with the map.
6 - Ensure all forms are completed, and actioned as outlined.
7 - Reconcile completed locations with the master copy to avoid duplication.
the OC () Area Canvass should continually review completed canvass forms as they are submitted, in order to:
- evaluate the quality of completed work and provide quality assurance
- identify lines of enquiry to be highlighted to the 2IC
- monitor ongoing progress of the canvass
- facilitate the detailed recording of progress.
A detailed master record of ongoing progress should be continually maintained and updated by the OC Area Canvass, showing
- which addresses have been visited
- which occupants interviewed
- the documentation completed
- any relevant comments made
At the conclusion of the area canvass a thorough debrief must be carried out. This may include confirming such aspects as:
- key locations where door to door enquiries have been undertaken
- parameters of initial Police activity
- what questions were asked and any perceived issues from the respondents
- what records have been completed
- who has been spoken to at what address
- whether personal descriptions been taken of persons seen
- whether NIA ()/Intelligence checks been completed in respect of persons seen
- relevant information provided by persons seen
- any intelligence obtained
- whether persons have a credible alibi
- whether witness interviews have been conducted and/or statements taken for persons providing evidence
- details/locations of vehicles owned by persons interviewed
- details of other persons who live or were present at the premises
- identity of any suspects
- details of premises where there was no response
- confirmation that all notebooks of staff members involved in the area canvass are accounted for
- whether any issues arose that could improve future performance in canvass enquiries.
What information should be included in the final report of the OC area canvass?
- a summary of all action taken
- any significant findings highlighted
- attention drawn to any action that has been undertaken which was outside of the original phase strategy
What is covered in Part A of the area canvass form?
- street name
- house number
- flat number
- personal details of all residents
- personal details of all other people who were visiting the address at the time of the offence
- vehicles used by all residents and visitors to the address.
In respect of Form A for the area canvass, one form is required for
- each dwelling
- each flat or apartment in the case of multiple dwellings on a single property
- a vacant dwelling or empty section.
What is the Part B form of an area canvass?
- personal details
- home details
- work details
- answers to specific questions.
On receipt of a Part A form relating to someone who is no longer in the area, the OC Area Canvass should:
- submit a report requesting Police interview the person
- attach two copies of a Part B form to that report
- give the original report and the two Part B forms to the 2 IC
- attach a duplicate of the report to the relevant Part A form as a record of an outstanding enquiry.
When a person spoken to in the area canvass has relevant information to offer, the investigating member must:
- arrange for them to provide a Formal Written Statement
- record on their Part B form they have made a Formal Written Statement
- ensure the witness information is conveyed to the OC () Area Canvass and 2IC Investigation as soon as practicable
- give the Part B form to the OC Area Canvass
When all enquiries in respect of a particular address have been completed, the OC () Area Canvass will:
- file Part A and Part B forms together
- send the duplicate Part B form to the File Manager
- shade in the area on the area canvass map.
What is the Area Canvass Checklist points before the area canvass is conducted?
1 Obtain suitable street and other maps of the area
2 Visit and inspect the canvass area to establish the boundary and record every address
3 Reconcile the list of premises with the map.
4 develop an area canvass strategy
5 Divide the area into manageable sections and plan a progressive canvass, completing priority areas first.
When developing an area canvass strategy, what should the strategy address?
- area canvass objectives
- location parameters
- time parameters
- risk assessment
- identifying suspects/persons of interest
- identifying witnesses
- use of questionnaires.
What is the Area Canvass Checklist points during the area canvass?
6 Fully brief all staff
7 Ensure all forms are completed and actioned
8 Shade in the map as each household is completed
9 Maintain a detailed ongoing record of area canvass results
10 Visit team members regularly during the area canvass to monitor welfare, maintain control, morale, enthusiasm and efficiency.
11 Attend investigation squad conferences and supply situation reports.
When briefing staff for an area canvass, what should be covered?
- Summarise the situation
- detail the duties and areas of responsibility of each team member.
- Emphasise the need for thoroughness and that every person in every household as well as visitors must be seen personally.
- Stress the questionnaire is only a guide but should be regarded as flexible in that information supplied could lead to other questions.
- Evidence of possible probative value is to be obtained by way of Formal Written Statement
- Provide guidance on what action staff should take if they: identify the suspect; or locate evidence; or encounter individuals who refuse to assist.
- Expectations for how correspondence is to be completed.
- What information can and can not be disclosed.
What is the Area Canvass Checklist points for after the area canvass?
On completion of area canvass, the OC () Area Canvass must:
- conduct a debrief of canvass staff
- ensure all questionnaires are reconciled with the master list
- ensure all staff notebooks are accounted
- for submit a report to the OC () Investigation, detailing the results of the area canvass.
During the briefing what should the OC area canvass advise staff of?
8 - Advise staff on:
=what action to take if they believe they have identified the suspect
=what action to take if they locate items of evidential value
=what action to take if individuals refuse to assist
=how to complete the correspondence flow
=what information can be disclosed during the area canvass
=what information must not be disclosed.