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Why do Police Investigations fail?

The successful investigator should demonstrate a high level of expertise in acquiring information from both physical evidence and the statements provided by those related to or involved in the criminal incident. They must be capable of discerning which evidence merits meticulous scientific examination within a laboratory, conducted by proficient technicians, and understanding the proper methods for its storage and transportation. Additionally, they need to excel in conducting interviews with crime victims and witnesses, while also exhibiting adeptness in the art of interrogating suspects. Ultimately, their acumen lies in identifying the precise evidence required to establish the fundamental components of the alleged offense.

The Police Investigations may fail in courts due to the following reasons:

Ignoring Evidence:
Overlooking or disregarding certain pieces of evidence, even if they seem minor, can result in the omission of crucial information. Each piece of evidence may contribute to a more complete picture of the crime and potential motives.

Evidence Mishandling:
Mishandling of evidence can occur when police fail to properly collect, preserve, store and transport physical evidence to the laboratory. If evidence is contaminated, damaged, or not stored securely, it can compromise the integrity of the investigation and render the evidence inadmissible in court.

Bias and Prejudice:
Bias and prejudice can cloud judgment and influence how police approach certain cases or individuals. Treating some individuals unfairly can result in incomplete investigations or wrongful targeting of suspects.

Lack of Training:
Inadequate training in investigative techniques can hinder an officer's ability to properly collect evidence, interview witnesses, and conduct thorough investigations. Lack of training can also lead to errors in interpreting evidence.

Lack of Resources:
Insufficient resources, whether financial, personnel, or technological, can hinder investigators from conducting thorough examinations of evidence, interviews, or follow-ups.

Incomplete Interviews:
When police fail to interview all relevant parties, witnesses, or potential suspects, they may miss critical information that could provide a comprehensive understanding of the events. Incomplete interviews can lead to gaps in the investigation and an inaccurate representation of what actually transpired.

Tunnel Vision:
Tunnel vision occurs when investigators become fixated on a particular suspect or theory and ignore other viable leads. This can lead to confirmation bias, where evidence that contradicts the chosen theory is dismissed, potentially resulting in wrongful accusations.

Coerced Confessions:
Using improper interrogation methods, such as intimidation, threats, or denial of legal rights, can lead to false confessions. Coerced confessions undermine the credibility of the investigation and can wrongly implicate innocent individuals.

Lack of Follow-Up:
Failing to diligently pursue leads, tips, or pieces of evidence can result in missed opportunities to gather crucial information. Without thorough follow-up, potential breakthroughs might go unnoticed.

Poor Communication:
When different departments, officers, or agencies fail to communicate effectively, important information can be lost or not shared in a timely manner. Poor communication can lead to disjointed investigations and missed connections between evidence and suspects.

Ignoring Alternative Theories:
Focusing exclusively on a single theory of the crime can cause investigators to ignore other plausible explanations. Considering alternative theories helps ensure a more balanced and comprehensive investigation.

Rushing the Investigation:
Pressure to solve a case quickly can lead to shortcuts, overlooked evidence, and hasty conclusions. Rushing an investigation increases the likelihood of errors and can compromise the accuracy of the findings.

Shortage of Investigating Officers
Some Investigating Officers are saddled with more cases of investigation than they can handle. I have even seen many officers at the police station level investigating more than 40-50 cases singlehandedly due to paucity of investigating officers. This results in poor quality of investigation and spoils investigation of many cases even inviting displeasure of the courts and the public. It needs no mention that the Investigating Officers also must perform various law and order duties in the jurisdiction of the Police Station and even outside the jurisdiction in addition to normal police work and their investigative job.

Paucity of Vehicles
There is shortage of vehicles at the Police Station level thereby handicapping regular movement of the Investigating Officers for visit to the scene of crime, examination of witnesses and arrest of the accused persons. This hampers proper and timely police investigation.

Unavailability of Computers
There is absence of the required number of computers at the police Station level for use of the Investigating Officers resulting in delay in writing of Case Diaries and preparation of other documents thereby causing disruption in the investigation of cases.

Absence of Proper Storeroom/Malkhana
In most of the Police Stations there is no proper room for safely storing the exhibits and seized documents leading to dislocation of evidence and its contamination.

Delay at Forensic Laboratories
As the forensic laboratories are overburdened with exhibits and evidence due to their inadequate number and insufficient officers in the existing forensic laboratories, forensic reports are not submitted timely to the courts through the Investigating Officers and sometimes even incorrect forensic reports are submitted resulting in damage to the interest of the case leading to acquittal of the accused persons.

Disinterested and Hostile Witnesses
It is very difficult to find a good and independent witness in course of investigation of a case compelling Investigating Officers to use stock and pocket witnesses leading to questioning of credibility of the witnesses during trial of the case and subsequent acquittal of the accused persons. Very few people come forward on their own to stand witness in a case despite being eyewitness. Some genuine witnesses even turn hostile during trial of the putting the prosecution side in a tricky situation and damaging the fate of the case.

Mistakes in FIR
Many a times FIRs are not drafted properly and contain many mistakes like wrong name of the complainant, incorrect name of the accused persons, witnesses, wrong description of the scene of crime, exclusion of the name of writer of the complaint, absence of signature of the complainant, incomplete description of the incident, and wrong representation of the weapon of offence etc.

Delay in FIR
Unexplained delay in filing of the FIR may damage the case beyond repair and may raise question of concoction in drafting the FIR and naming of the accused person including prodding of some other person in writing the FIR. Hence, if there is delay in lodging the FIR, the same may be explained in the FIR itself and FIR should be filed promptly immediately after the incident so that the question of inordinate delay in filing the FIR may not be raised by the defence attorney.

Police Station Based Investigation
Many Investigating Officers conduct investigation by sitting at the Police Station instead of visiting the scene of crime or examining the witnesses at their locations. They prepare statements of the witnesses on their own without examining them by tallying the same with the FIR and sometimes even manipulate the statements according to their own sweet will for implicating some innocent persons or exonerating the accused persons.

False Cases
Some police officers implicate innocent persons in false cases at the instance of their enemies or for personal interest or due to some extraneous factors. When properly challenged in court, these cases fall flat under scrutiny of the court discrediting police in the eyes of law and the common man.

Improper Seizure
Many Investigating Officers do not make proper seizure list of the exhibits seized or do not show the actual place of seizure in the seizure list or do not follow the proper procedure of seizure and make stock witnesses as seizure witness leading to failure of the case in court during scrutiny and cross-examination.

In conclusion, police investigations are complex endeavours that require careful attention to detail, unbiased judgment, and proper procedural adherence. While mistakes are inevitable, acknowledging and learning from these lapses is essential for continuous improvement in law enforcement practices. Striving for accuracy, fairness, and transparency in investigations is vital to ensuring justice is served appropriately.

Written By: Md. Imran Wahab, IPS, IGP, Provisioning, West Bengal
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9836576565

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