Criminality and Workplace Investigation – It isn’t as simple as you may think

Philip Grindell
Written by Philip Grindell
magnifying glass on a fingerprint, forensic investigation concept

Investigating is a specialist subject in itself. Detectives in the police spend years becoming qualified and even longer honing their skills. The Professionalising Investigation Programme (PIP) was implemented in policing in 2003 and as the title indicates, professionalised the level of secondary investigations.

An investigation is the action of examining, studying or enquiring into something or someone and evaluating material through a considered systematic approach. An investigation commences when an allegation of an offence is made or is suspected. Investigations should always be undertaken using appropriately skilled staff.

Interviewing is a critical skill that a professional investigator will practice, and will require specialist training when interviewing children, victims of child or sexual abuse or other specialist roles. An intelligence interview is another separate skillset.

Most investigations will require a victim and witness care package, which will include an understanding of risk management and the specific strategies required when working with victims of specific types of offences, such as sexual offences.

Recent experience has identified for me that investigations can be conducted into behaviours of concern in the workplace, and yet fail to recognise that criminal offences have taken place, and the required victim care and risk management are missing.

When offences are identified they are not always brought to the attention of the police. This can be for a number of reasons, including concerns of the police not taking the matter seriously or not conducting a proper initial investigation, concerns of allegations being leaked and attracting unwanted attention and publicity or because the organisation would prefer to suppress the fact offences have been conducted.

Having left a career in law enforcement behind me, I’ve represented clients and have engaged and liaised with law enforcement and understand how difficult it is to receive the level of service expected. Sometimes a knowledge of the processes, as well as having contacts in law enforcement ensures a better service, which shouldn’t be the case, but in the current climate, it sadly is.

It is regrettable that the primary investigations conducted by front line officers are impacted by a lack of training, budgetary cutbacks and constant abstractions of officers to other duties. This causes investigations to stall and has real implications for victim engagement, with the investigating officers constantly changing, trust is lost.

Failing to recognise that criminal offences have been committed and/or a reluctance to engage with law enforcement can have serious consequences.

A failure to recognise that a sexual offence has occurred, for instance, may cause the victim not to receive the proper care nor be interviewed in the appropriate fashion which may cause critical evidence to be lost. Equally, it may allow a perpetrator to go unpunished, enabling them to continue to offend and to escalate their behaviour, in the workplace or elsewhere.

This may leave the organisation vulnerable to legal action and reputational harm.

Where harassment and other unwanted attention occurs in the workplace, is often engenders feelings of paranoia and hypervigilance in the recipient and can cause a drop in performance. It is worth remembering that harassment, stalking, sexual touching and communication offences are criminal offences, and the emotions experienced by the recipient don’t end when they leave the workplace and go home.

It is not unusual for the offences to continue outside the workplace, and yet risk and care packages rarely recognise this, leaving it for the employee to identify and fund any security measures they require to mitigate the risks.

At Defuse we employ The SAFER Model® to ensure our clients receive the very best in investigative support.


The SAFER Model® is a five-step model as follows:

S – Strategise Investigation – How are we going to solve this problem, identify the scope, budget and timeframe.

A – Analyse Facts and Identify Risk – Gather the evidence, investigate the persons involved, identify any offences and risks.

F – Forensic Assessment – Conduct a forensic psychological assessment to identify any personality issues or mental illness and the associated risks, with a communication and engagement strategy.

E – Engage and Liaise – Engage and liaise with law enforcement and internal partners as required.

R – Risk Management & Reassure – Identify, assess and manage the risks to the complainant/victim and to the organisation with victim care and communication strategy.


For further details please contact Defuse via [email protected]

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