Search Patterns

Search Patterns

Understanding Search Patterns

  • Search patterns are systematic approaches used by forensic investigators to ensure every area of a potential crime scene is thoroughly scrutinised for potential evidence.
  • Thoroughness is of utmost importance, as overlooked evidence could potentially mean a wrongful suspect conviction or allow the true perpetrator to escape justice.
  • A variety of search patterns are available, with the appropriate one chosen based on factors such as the size and nature of the scene, resources available, and the type of crime committed.

Common Search Patterns

  • A grid search involves two searchers moving in parallel lines across the crime scene.
  • After traversing the scene, they turn and cross back over the area in lines that are parallel to each other but perpendicular to the first search path, forming a grid pattern.
  • In a line or strip search, searchers move in a straight line across the crime scene.
  • The searchers then repeat this process, moving in lines that are parallel to the initial search direction.
  • During a spiral search, a single searcher starts at a certain point and moves in an outwardly spiralling pattern.
  • This type of search is effective in areas where boundaries are unclear, as it leaves no dead ends and covers every part of the area.
  • A zone or quadrant search involves the division of the crime scene into sections or quadrants.
  • Searchers then thoroughly scrutinise each section individually.
  • A wheel or ray search is often used in open, circular crime scenes, such as a large outdoor area where a body has been found.
  • The searchers move along spokes, or “rays,” out from the centre of the circle to its edge.

Application of Search Patterns

  • It’s important to remember that the chosen search pattern must be adapted to suit the unique complexities and constraints of each crime scene.
  • Practical constraints such as time, manpower, and environmental factors need to be considered.
  • Using the knowledge of potential types of evidence expected, a particular search pattern might be more effective than others.
  • Whichever pattern is used, all searchers should be well-briefed on what to look for and the process of marking found evidence for later collection.

Final Thoughts

  • Mastery of search patterns contributes to the thorough, accurate, and systematic investigation of forensic scenes.
  • It’s critical to adapt and make the best use of the different search patterns to ensure no piece of potential evidence is missed.