Community’s critical role in evidence gathering
In law the term “evidence” is used to indicate the means by which any fact or point in issue or question can be proved or disproved in a manner complying with the legal rules governing the subject.
This is the definition of evidence, which I learnt when I joined the Bermuda Police Service in 1966; principally, it hasn’t changed.
Police can confidently say that they know who they are yet have not brought them to justice is because of that simple word “evidence”, or lack thereof.
We know who they are because of previous information and intelligence, associates and behaviours, but when it comes to proving any crime they may have committed, we need evidence, which when put before the court convinces a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that they are guilty as charged.
Evidence comes in various forms, such as the five senses: seeing, hearing, taste, touch and smell.
Every witness giving evidence before a court will have one or more of these senses brought out in their testimony. There are many contributing forms of evidence such as fingerprints, DNA, photographs, ballistics, blood types etc.
Investigators work extremely hard putting together every piece of evidence they come across, no matter how small, to make a case having several points to prove.
So where does the community come into all this? We often hear appeals for the community to come forward with information.
“If you know something, say something” seems to be the common request these days. Many people will be unaware of crucial evidence they may possess — one of their five senses which was alerted at a particular time could be the link investigators are looking for to piece together a puzzle.
You may not think it relevant in any way, but you might casually tell a friend or family member. Instead, call the police and let them decide which is relevant or not. You will not know the facts the police already know, save that the crime has been committed or whatever facts they choose to release in appeals.
Just because you provide the police with some information does not mean you will have to go to court; it may lead only to a trail where other evidence is found.
Let’s all help to make Bermuda a safe island and rid it of illegal firearms and drugs. Please contact the police with what you know. Call 295-0011 and ask for the Serious Crime Unit. Or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477.
I assure you Crime Stoppers is completely confidential. You will remain anonymous. You won’t speak to anyone in Bermuda and you do not give your identity.
Retired Police Inspector