The initial investigative methods. The type of activity and material gathered by investigators differ depending on whether investigations are reactive or proactive. However, as shown in the process of investigation diagram, they all go through similar stages.
The Initial Investigative Methods
Every investigation is unique and may necessitate a different path through the process. For example, in some cases, the identity of the offender is known from the start, and the investigation moves quickly into the suspect management phase. In other cases, the identity of the offender may never be known or may be discovered only after additional investigation.
Most crimes reported to the police are minor in nature, and the officer who arrives first is usually the only resource needed. Throughout the investigation, this officer may serve as the investigator.
The quality of the investigation, whether conducted in person or over the phone, is an important factor in gathering evidence that leads to the discovery of a crime. There may be limited opportunities to locate and gather material, so those conducting the initial investigation must ensure that no material is lost.
Once a crime has been assigned to an investigator, it is critical that they collect information from whoever took the initial report. Investigations should be carried out thoroughly, and investigators should not assume that a crime cannot be solved or that it will be carried out by someone else at a later stage.
Assessing The Information
Once an accusation has been made and some preliminary inquiries have been conducted, a decision has to be made whether it is appropriate to proceed to a full investigation. While this is usually a decision for the head of the organization, they will often seek the advice of those delegated to carry out investigations.
Electing to proceed with a full internal investigation is a significant decision. Investigations are resource-intensive and very sensitive. If an investigation is handled poorly, it can have serious ramifications for individuals and the organization. For example, innocent people can be wrongly tainted, people who have acted improperly can be emboldened by having survived scrutiny, the reputation of the organization’s executive can be undermined, and the workplace can be divided, and staff morale can be damaged.
Conversely, there can be serious ramifications if an investigation does not proceed. For example, innocent employees may be left with a black cloud over their heads, offenders could be left to cause more damage in the future, and standards of behavior within the workplace may be undermined. There are several important considerations at this critical stage, as detailed below.
Is An Internal Investigation The Right Process?
Sometimes an internal investigation is not the appropriate process and may be better managed using dispute or grievance procedures, including mediation or by making workplace changes, rather than implementing investigation procedures concerning a host of apparent offenders.
Does The Matter Relate To The Performance Of The Organization’s Functions?
What people do in their personal life away from the workplace is usually a matter for them, and it is not appropriate for an employer to investigate allegations of misconduct outside the work environment.
Where such conduct may have implications for the workplace (for example, constant alcohol use leading to low productivity at work), it may be appropriate to enquire into out-of-work conduct.
In all the circumstances of the matter, there are several considerations to be made before deciding whether it is appropriate to pursue the matter. These include:
How Old Is The Matter?
Some matters cease to be significant as time goes by. Conversely, some issues will always warrant investigation no matter how old they are, such as those involving a substantial sum of money, or the actions of a senior member of the organization. If a considerable period has elapsed since particular matters occurred, this may have a significant impact on whether a fair investigation can be conducted. Witnesses may no longer be available to provide accounts of events, documents may have been destroyed, people’s memories may have faded, and so forth. If an extended period has passed, it may be appropriate not to hold an investigation into minor matters.
Get Some Preliminary Details
A few minor preliminary inquiries may need to be conducted to make an appropriate preliminary assessment. For example, what were the appropriate procedures at the time? Are they still current? Who were the people involved? Do they still work for the organization? Are any background details of any external company involved? Has this matter or similar matters been investigated in the past? Is there any financial information available?
Preliminary inquiries are those that can be made without tipping off anybody that an investigation is taking place.
Regardless of when the crime was committed, fast-track actions can be applied to reactive or proactive investigations.
The first opportunity to obtain material could be the last. Identifying these actions during the preliminary investigation stage yields the most effective results. Delays in protecting, preserving, or gathering evidence may result in contaminated or lost evidence.