Crime Scene Series: The Golden Hour

The whole trajectory of a successful investigation hinges on the actions taken by those first at the scene: the First Officer Attending (FAO) or First Responder (FR).

In your research into crime scenes you may see the phrase ‘the golden hour’. This refers to the importance of the first 60 minutes in locking down the scene; preserving evidence and recording the details of everyone who comes in contact with the scene.

As soon as a location is identified as a ‘crime scene’ by the FOA or FR, ‘crime scene lockdown’ is initiated. The five key steps are described here. Scroll down for a handy infographic you are welcome to keep!



First things first, create a cordon around the scene, either using crime scene tape or by closing off doors.


Secondly, keep a log of all people crossing the cordon including timings and their reason for visiting the scene. This includes all police staff.


Next, establish what is referred to as a Common Approach Path (CAP) to the scene. This is the route everyone must take if they require access. This path should not interfere with any evidence, and should be photographed before setting down metal stepping plates.


You must also record the details of the scene as best you can, exactly how it appears; any smells, the temperature, the lighting, the weather etc.


Finally, identify the witnesses, victims and suspects relating to the scene. Keep them away from each other so they can’t corroborate stories. Record their details and a summary of why they were at the scene. Take fingerprints.


Now, the entire crime scene has been locked down ready for the Senior Investigating Officer to arrive!



This important process is likely to feature in your crime story in some capacity. Is there anything I’ve missed or more info you need?

Was this helpful? Let me know in the comments!

p.s. Lookout for more articles in the Crime Scene Series!

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