Where it is suspected that a crime has been committed, the police should be contacted immediately and physical, forensic and other evidence should be preserved, see Achieving Best Evidence: Witness Support and Special Measures.
Preserving forensic evidence includes:
- Disturbing a ‘scene’ as little as possible, sealing off areas if possible.
- Not removing the clothing of the adult subjected to the alleged abuse.
- Discouraging washing/bathing.
- Not handling items, which may hold DNA evidence.
- Removing any bedding, clothing /putting any bedding, clothing which has been removed, or any significant items given to you (weapons etc.) in a safe dry place.
- Securing phones / laptops that may contain evidence of communication between the adult and the alleged source of harm.
Other evidence can be obtained, or preserved by:
- Accurate recording of any disclosure using the persons words
- Not interviewing the adult subjected to the alleged abuse without agreement from the Police
- Not interviewing any potential witnesses
- Not alerting the person associated with the alleged source of harm
- Making a note of your observations in relation to any environmental factors and or context of the situation and the attitude of the people involved and any actions you have taken
- If the adult subject to the alleged abuse is already receiving services via care/case management or Care Programme Approach routes, this should not preclude a Safeguarding Adults Concern where a concern is raised or abuse is disclosed