Crime scene preservation

Steps to take following an offence

Advice on what to do when confronted with a threatening person or situation in your business. Leading Senior Constable Janelle Laing also explains how to preserve the crime scene, work with police on the investigation and support available for victims.


Leading Senior Constable Janelle Laing: If you're confronted by somebody who's armed or unarmed and is making threats, ensure that firstly you follow all instructions that are given. Attempt to remain as calm as possible. Show your hands at all times, and don't make any sudden movements. And contact the police as soon as possible and as soon as it's safe to do so. 

When you call for police assistance, you'll be prompted to answer a series of questions. They include details such as your name, your exact location, the event that has taken place, a description of the offender so we can start looking for them, and also whether anyone is injured and if an ambulance or fire is also required. 

Immediately after contacting the police, the paramount consideration is crime scene. So after preserving life, look at ceasing trade if at all possible to ensure that nothing is contaminated, identify any witnesses to the incident and attempt to keep them separated so they are not exchanging stories or information, put some signs in the windows to ensure that your customers are informed that trade has ceased for the time being. 

If there has been damage to a store as a result of an incident, a shopkeeper should not look to start cleaning up the premise prior to police arrival, and that's simply because the crime scene will be contaminated, and that will impede upon the police investigation later down the track. 

Investigators will look for a number of traces of evidence, and in particular forensic evidence. They include things such as physical evidence, such as fingerprints, footmarks and tire marks, ballistic evidence such as bullet casings and gunshot residue, also evidence that is trace, that may include hair, fibres, and accelerants, and also bodily evidence such as saliva, blood, and urine. 

We ask that someone be delegated within the store to actually look after the crime scene until police arrival. 

RESPOND is an easily-retainable acronym designed to assist people to manage a crime scene.

R stands for respond: Responding to your safety and those who need assistance. 

E is evaluate: Evaluating the seriousness of the situation and identifying who can assist. 

S is for secure: Securing the crime scene to ensure the preservation of evidence. 

P is for protect: Protecting the scene and recording names of any persons that are in the location. 

O is for observe: Writing down what you saw, making as many notes as possible. 

N is for notify: Calling the police, fire, or ambulance service through the emergency number, 000. 

And D is for document: Taking notes of what you saw and being prepared to provide your notes to police. 

A victim is anyone who suffers any type of psychological or physical harm as a result of a crime. And all victims have rights in accordance with the Charter of Victim's Rights. They include things such as support, and possibly financial support as well. 

Within New South Wales, Victim Services forms a part of the New South Wales Department of Attorney General's and Justice Office, and victims are entitled to support through their service, such as online counselling and 24-hour hotlines. 


Triple Zero (000) for emergencies or life threatening situations.

Police Assistance Line: 131 444 for non-emergencies.

Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 to provide crime information. You can remain anonymous. 

Last updated: Thursday, 11 December 2014