Home > Research Basics > Compiling Information or Evidence

Compiling Information or Evidence

By: Robin Mizell - Updated: 5 May 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
Evidence Evidence Collection Evidence

How you go about compiling evidence will depend on your ultimate objectives.

Is there a possibility your investigation will uncover evidence of a serious crime? If you believe it might, then the manner in which you plan to collect and document evidence will be of the utmost importance. In fact, if you take part in the process of gathering certain types of evidence when you have a personal relationship to the individual suspected of wrongdoing, the validity of the evidence can easily be called into question. If a reasonable person might wonder whether you could have fabricated or tampered with evidence in order to implicate someone in a serious crime, then you should leave the evidence collection to the authorities and act only according to their instructions.

Let’s assume you’re launching your own investigation into something that’s morally offensive to you but not a crime. Or, let’s say you’re gathering and documenting information about a crime so minor that you have the legal right to decide whether the person responsible is prosecuted. Perhaps you simply suspect someone cheated you. In these situations, you face considerably less liability if your investigation is less than perfect. If the stakes are relatively low—or the information you gather is solely for your own use—then you may be willing risk the possibility of failing to meet evidentiary standards established by law.

Always take care not to violate the law in order to gain access to information or evidence.

Gathering Information Effectively

To ensure evidence and information are gathered effectively, the first step is to devise a method of keeping a record. Create a simple log consisting of at least the following categories:
  • Date and time
  • Location
  • Source
  • Source address, telephone number, email address
  • Number plate and description, if applicable
  • Description, information, statement, etc.
  • Tangible evidence collected, including its position and condition
  • Disposition of tangible evidence
This type of record can help to document telephone harassment, missing household items, suspicious traffic in your neighbourhood, or similar complaints. If you intend to be thorough, you’ll log your unsuccessful efforts to gather new information, as well as your effective strategies.

The log itself becomes a piece of evidence. Your notes, in the form of a log, become a chronological record of your investigation and the suspicious events that led to it.

Evidence comes in many forms. It can consist of the statements of individuals who have direct knowledge of the problem that concerns you. It may include mere rumours and gossip, as well as background research and witness statements. All of it should be recorded in your log.

You may also obtain evidence in the form of records and documents, such as call detail lists, credit card transaction statements, photographs, letters, court documents, recordings, and sales receipts. The location and condition of each item, and how you obtained it, should be described completely in your log. It can prove useful to photograph the item in the place where you find it, before it’s disturbed. The photograph then also becomes a piece of evidence and should be accurately labeled with the date, time, location, and photographer’s name.

You will, of course, want to secure any items of physical evidence in a container or envelope labeled with the collection date, location, and your name. The container or envelope should be sealed only if the evidence is completely dry.

Special Handling

Certain kinds of evidence may require special handling to preserve their integrity and value as forms of proof. It’s extremely easy to destroy delicate evidence such as fingerprints, email, digital photographs, other types of electronic data, or substances to be analysed for DNA. You should handle such evidence as little as possible, if at all. The advice or assistance of a forensic expert will probably be necessary. In some cases, you may need the assistance of a solicitor to obtain a preservation order to prevent the deletion of digital evidence that you know exists but are unable to access on your own.

Weapons can harbour several types of evidence simultaneously, in addition to presenting an inherent danger to you and to others. There is almost no other way to ensure the proper collection of a weapon as evidence of wrongdoing than by turning it over to the police. The same is true for chemicals used in the manufacture of illegal explosives and drugs, even small quantities of which can be catastrophically harmful. The safe thing to do with weapons or chemical evidence is contact an expert official.

If you are careful and systematic in your collection of information and evidence, you’ll help to establish that you are a reasonable person and that you acted in good faith. The process of logging your investigative efforts will allow you to reassess your conclusions as new information comes to light. Patterns may appear that might otherwise have gone undetected. Most important, when the time comes to do something with your evidence, you’ll have the necessary documentation to support any accusations, and it will be much less likely for your concerns to be disregarded.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
spike - Your Question:
How do I get the proper evidence to show non receipt of my share of profits from a rental property?

Our Response:
What information do you have? If you have records of all the rental payments and expenses plus any payments made to you, would this not be sufficient?
DIYSpy - 6-May-16 @ 2:27 PM
how do I get the proper evidence to show non receipt of my share of profits from a rental property?
spike - 5-May-16 @ 6:16 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • TomCallan
    Re: How to Join MI6
    Y’all aren’t the most perceptive people are you? First things first, you need to be at least 17 and a half to apply and have full British…
    22 September 2019
  • healer
    Re: How to Join MI6
    Hi Im healer and please take me I will do all the missions and I will always follow the orders please take me Thank you!
    11 August 2019
  • Black Mafia
    Re: How to Join MI6
    I'm 13 I live in Nigeria I've lived in the US and I want to join the MI6 so madly I spy on little people please give me the opportunity to work…
    10 August 2019
  • Gonaburst
    Re: How to Join MI6
    So i am a 12 year old girl and i really want to become part of the MI6 any time soon probably at the age of 14 however i dont know how to sigh up…
    2 July 2019
  • Anton
    Re: How to Join MI6
    I would love to join. I have immense emotional intelligence, great at forming relationships, trust is the highest thing I value. Trust me, I know a…
    1 July 2019
  • Karim
    Re: How to Join MI6
    I am a British citizen and ethnic afghan and I can believe that I can be very useful. I can speak Persian , Pashto, Urdo , punjabi and English.
    25 June 2019
  • Mermaid
    Re: How to Join MI6
    I am a 13 year old girl who was born in Britain and lives in a kurdish household. next week I will be choosing my options for year 9 and GCSEs and…
    2 May 2019
  • Anonymous
    Re: How to Join MI6
    I am not a British citizen, I am a 16yr old who would love to work for the SIS n serve MI6.
    12 March 2019
  • Unknown
    Re: How to Join MI6
    Dear Thomas, I am a 13 year old girl for Latvia, living in the UK. I’ve always been interested in secret missions, I’ve been watching films…
    12 February 2019
  • agent
    Re: How to Join MI6
    Im going to chose my GCSES next month so i am wondering what i would need to because it is a lifelong dream to work for MI6
    12 January 2019