Of note only
Police who have first contact with the informant should be debriefed and a full record made of their account. This record could become crucial if the informant is later identified as a suspect.
In some circumstances, consideration should be given to interviewing such officers as investigatively important witnesses.
Witness as a scene
Of note only
Some witnesses may have been so proximate to events that it is likely evidence was transferred to the witness, from the victim, suspect or from the scene itself.
Before a witness is interviewed, a plan must be prepared to preserve and recover all available physical evidence from the witness including DNA, fingerprints, clothes, footwear, fibres, body fluids, glass or other material.
Preliminary witness interviews
On some occasions it may be necessary to conduct a prompt, preliminary interview with a witness who possesses information or material that is likely to rapidly progress the investigation, ie. information that may lead to:
- early identification or arrest of a suspect
- prevention of the commission of other offences.
- recovery of evidence or information relevant to the offence
- prevention of the imminent disposal or destruction of evidence connected to the investigation
Initial witness assessment
Before any formal interview is conducted, the investigator must make an assessment of the witness.
The assessment should consider how the witness interview should be conducted, and enable the investigation team to identify:
- whether the witness requires special consideration
- any needs the witness has for special assistance
- availability of the witness
- the optimum approach to be taken with the witness.
Of note only
A risk assessment must be conducted to establish the extent to which a witness might be at risk of intimidation and/or physical harm.
Different forms of intimidation may result from a witness providing information to Police, ranging from fear of going to Court, to life being at serious risk.
Ensure that witnesses do not:
- have any contact or communication with jurors
- discuss the case in public areas while waiting to give evidence
- discuss the case with witnesses waiting after they have given evidence.
By maintaining contact with witnesses, Police will be more likely to become aware of any threats, intimidation or interference and can arrange for appropriate action to be taken; such as initiating the witness protection program.
Alibi witnesses notified under section 22 of the Criminal Disclosure Act 2008 must only be interviewed under the direction of the Crown Solicitor.
When particulars of alibi witnesses are notified concerning a matter in respect of which proceedings have been commenced, the investigator must:
- make enquiries to determine the veracity of the alibi
- conduct inquiries as directed by the OC Investigation and the Crown Solicitor including NIA checks on the alibi witness
- forward the results of these enquiries to the Crown Solicitor, including any statements obtained.