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Lincoln high street stabbing: Why closing a crime scene is disrupting but crucial

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: April 18, 2014

By Detective Chief Superintendent Maria Staniland, from Lincolnshire Police

Lincoln High Street was shut on April 9 when a man was found with potentially life-threatening stab wounds

Lincoln High Street was shut on April 9 when a man was found with potentially life-threatening stab wounds

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After part of Lincoln High Street was cordoned off following reports of a stabbing earlier this month, Detective Chief Superintendent Maria Staniland, of Lincolnshire Police, explains why it is necessary

to do so.


First and foremost we would like to thank the public for their support and patience regarding the closure of the High Street in Lincoln on April 9.

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A man was found collapsed in the street at 1am with potentially life- threatening stab wounds.

A decision to close a section of the High Street in these circumstances was not taken lightly, but with the information we had at the time, it was inevitable.

After a full investigation, it transpired that the man had inflicted these injuries on himself and that the injuries were not as serious as first thought.

Our officers could not have established this without the initial investigation and so quite rightly treated the incident as they would a potential murder.

The hours that follow an incident are vital in terms of carrying out an investigation to the highest standard.

Any evidence that is not gathered at the time can be lost forever and could mean that a case remains unsolved.

A family member who has lost a loved one in a violent incident is desperate to see an offender brought to justice.

If we are not able to do this then we need to at least demonstrate that no stone has been left unturned.

In a case where serious injuries have been inflicted, a victim can be left in a critical condition which may be life threatening.

That is why it is necessary to treat the crime scene very seriously. Such investigations are painstaking, meticulous and time consuming.

We will comb a scene or area for every forensic sample available – it might be that a single strand of hair confirms that a suspect has been at the scene of the crime.

The tiniest bit of evidence may identify a suspect or even secure a conviction at court.

Conversely it may eliminate an innocent person.

Even where a forensic sample has not solved a case immediately, it could potentially resolve a case years, or even decades in the future when the perpetrator comes to light having been arrested for another offence.

There have also been cases in Lincolnshire and across the country where a crime has been solved, using evidence gathered years earlier, because of advancements in forensic science and particularly DNA technology.

To allow members of the public into an area where a serious crime has been committed could destroy evidence and potentially contaminate the scene.

This may lead to a vital piece of evidence being inadmissible in court. Ultimately, it could result in the collapse of a case. We only have one opportunity to get it right.

We know the inconvenience that a road closure can cause. All of us have been stuck in major traffic jams for whatever reason and it's frustrating.

We are aware that we are asking a great deal from business owners and residents when we have to cordon off an area.

We rely very heavily on public support. We could not do our job without it and so the last thing we want to do is alienate people.

However, there are occasions when road closures are unavoidable.

These include violent incidents, serious injury or fatal road traffic collisions or in instances when an area is deemed unsafe for some reason. To minimise the inconvenience, we set up diversions with the help of our partners in other agencies such as the County Council Highways Department and reopen the road as soon as we can.

We hope for public trust and confidence in us to make the correct decisions using our training, knowledge and judgement while relying on the information that we have at the time.

Our first priority is the care and welfare of the victims and their families closely followed by our determination to bring offenders to justice.

We will always try to achieve those aims by causing as little inconvenience to the general public as we can.

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