People who are traumatised during a crime or who are instructed by the perpetrator/s not to look at him/them might find it difficult to observe the perpetrator/s whilst in the act of committing a crime. It is however important to be able to provide police with a description of the perpetrator/s and of any equipment, firearms, vehicles etc. that they might have been used. There are specific techniques that one can use to observe.
Observation techniques are accomplished through the use of the five senses of which sight and hearing are relied upon the most often. The other senses, namely taste, smell and touch may occasionally be used depending on the nature of the crime. It is important to memorise whatever is observed and when possible to make notes of what was observed. Observing Persons The purpose of observing people is to be able to describe them and to identify them later if required. If possible observation should proceed methodically as follows; General characteristics such as sex, race, colour of skin, height, built, weight and age Specific characteristics such as the colour of eyes and hair, the shape of the head and face, marks and scars on the body, mannerisms and habits Changeable characteristics such as clothing worn, use of cosmetics, hair styling etc. Branded clothing with well known brands such as Nike, Addidas, Uzi etc. In some instances one can notice a more specific characteristic such as a person with a limp or a very tall women or very short man, someone with facial tattoos  etc. Observing Objects Here one needs to observe more specifically The type of item, including the size and colour Specific distinguished characteristics such as a vehicle with a sunroof or a convertible, a laptop, tablet and/or smart-phone, a short nose shotgun or a hunting rifle Specific make and model such as a BMW Z3, an apple laptop, a smith & weston.38 special or a Clog 9mm pistol etc. Distinguishing marks indicating possible damage or alterations, such as a broken tail light, accident damage, telescope on a rifle. Look for specific numbers, markings and/or labels when present.
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Description Techniques Apart from being able to observe one also needs to be able to describe what you have observed as it might form the basis of evidence that you might have to give in a court of law. Bear in mind that as a victim of crime you also need to be able to describe the suspect/s and object/s. Use the following words, terms and methods to describe the general characteristics of a person Sex - (Male or Female) Race - Black, White, Coloured, Asian, Chinese Height - normally an estimate and compare with your own height - estimate in 10 cm blocks, for instance 1,6m or 1.7m Built - also include the posture - Large, average or small Stout, stocky, medium, slim or very big Posture - Upright (straight) medium or stooped (slightly bending forward) Weight - once again compare with your own weight and then estimate in blocks of 10 kg, for instance 70kg, 80,kg, 90kg etc. Age - use multiples of 5 years Complexion - Pale, fair, dark,sickly pale, flushed, clear, pimpled, freckled, pockmarks etc. Female - make up habits such as light, medium, dark, when describing person of colour distinguish between dark, brown, light brown, medium brown or olive
You should always strive to pattern your observation and description of a person along systematic lines normally beginning with the head, mid section (shoulders, chest,stomach) and the torso and legs. Use the following terms when describing specific personal characteristics. Head size and shape - Large, medium, small; long or short; broad or narrow;round, flat in back, flat on top, egg-shaped, high in crown, bulging in back and so forth. Face - Round, square, oval, broad, or long (as seen from the front) Hear colour as blond (light or dark), brown (light or dark), red (light or dark), auburn, black, gray, streaked with gray, or white, In the case of bleached, tinted, or dyed hair, both the artificial and the natural colour should be indicated when possible. Hair Density, as thick, medium, thin, or sparse; hairline, as low, medium, receding, receding over temples, and so forth. Baldness should be described as complete, whole top of head, occipital, frontal, receding, or the appropriate combination of types.
Hair type, as straight, wavy, curly, or kinky; hair texture, as fine, medium, or coarse. Appearance, as neat, bushy, unkempt, oily, or dry; hairstyle, as long, medium, or short; parted on left, parted on right, parted in center, or not parted Wigs, toupees, and hairpieces should be described carefully and in detail. The careful observer can often determine whether a person is wearing a toupee or other hairpiece from such indications as difference in hair texture, colour, density, type, or appearance. Furthermore, the arrangement of false hair will often be too nearly perfect, and the edges of the hairpiece will often be evident upon close scrutiny.  Forehead-High, medium, or low. Slope, as receding, medium, vertical, prominent, or bulging; width, as wide, medium, or narrow. Wrinkles or age lines, as none, light, deep, horizontal, curved (up or down), or vertical. Eyebrows-Colour, including any difference from hair colour. Slant from center (horizontal, slanted up, slanted down). Line, as straight or arched separated or connected; texture, as heavy, medium, or thin; hair, as short, medium, or long; plucked; pencilled. In describing females, it is often important that both the natural and the artificial appearance and contour of the eyebrows be indicated.  Eyes-Note colour of eyes. Nose-Concave, straight, convex (hooked), reman, or aquiline. Nostrils should be indicated as medium, wide, or narrow; large or small; high or low; round, elongated, or flaring. Peculiarities, such as broken, twisted to right or left, turned up, pendulous, hairy, deep-pored, and so forth, should be carefully noted and reported. Mouth-Size (as viewed from front), small, medium or large. Expression, as stern, sad, (corners drooping), pleasant, or smiling. Peculiarities, such as prominent changes made when speaking or laughing, twitching, habitually open, and so forth, should be indicated. l Lips-Thin, medium, or thick (as viewed from front); long, medium, or short (as viewed in profile). Position, as normal, lower protruding, upper protruding, or both protruding. Colour. Appearance, as smooth, chapped puffy, loose, compressed, tight (retracted over teeth), moist, dry, and so forth. Harelip and other peculiarities should be carefully noted. In the case of females, colour, type, and extent of lipstick should be described. In this connection, be alert for the use of lipstick to alter or accent the natural appearance of the lips. Moustache and beard-Colour, including any difference from hair colour; style and configuration; and state of grooming (unshaven). . Teeth-Colour; receding, normal, or protruding; large, medium, or small; stained decayed, very white, broken, false, gold, flared, uneven, missing, or gaps between teeth. 
Chin-Normal, receding, or jutting (as viewed in profile); short, medium, or long (as viewed from the front); small, large, pointed, square, dimpled cleft, or double.   Ears-Small, medium, or large. Shape, as oval, round, triangular, rectangular, or other appropriate term. Lobe, as descending, square, medium, or gulfed. Separation from the head should be described as close, normal, or protruding; and setting (based on a line extended horizontally back from the outside comer of the eye, which crosses the normally set ear at the upper third) should be indicated as low, normal, or high.  Hearing aids-Hearing aids should be described in detail as to type (such as inside the ear, behind the ear, with cord, cordless), colour, and ear in which worn.   l Cheeks-Full, bony, angular, fleshy, sunken, or flat. Cheekbones, as high (prominent), medium, or receding. In the case of women, make-up habits should be noted.   Neck-Short or long; straight or curved; thin or thick. Adam's apple as large (prominent), medium, or small.   Shoulders-Small, medium, or heavy; narrow, medium, or broad; square or round, level or one side lower. As seen in profile, straight, stooped, slumped, or humped. Arms-Long, medium, or short in comparison to rest of the body (average or medium arms terminate with the heel of the hand about halfway between the hips and the knee when the arms are hanging naturally). Muscles, as slight, medium, or heavy. Hands-Small, medium, or large in relation to the size of the individual. Peculiarities should be noted in detail. Fingers-Long, medium, or short; thin, medium, or thick (stubby). Deformities, such as missing fingers, disfigured nails, crooked fingers, and so forth, should be carefully indicated. Trunk -  Overall-Long, medium, or short (in relation to rest of body). Chest-Deep, medium, or flat, as seen in profile; broad, medium, or narrow, as seen from the front. Back-Straight, curved, humped, bowed, and so forth, as viewed in profile; straight or curved, as viewed from the rear.  l Waist-Small, medium, or large.   Abdomen-Flat, medium, or protruding.  Hips-Broad, medium, or narrow, as seen from the front; small, medium, or large, as seen in profile. In this connection, keep in mind the basic differences between male and female figures, as discussed earlier in this section. Legs-Long, medium, or short in comparison to rest of the body (average or medium legs combined with the hips constitute about half the body length); straight, bowed (bandy), or knock-kneed; muscles as slight, medium, or heavy.
Feet-Small, medium, or large in relation to body size. Deformities and peculiarities, such as pigeon-toed, flat-footed, club-footed, should be carefully recorded.  Marks and scars-Such identifying marks as birthmarks, moles, warts, tattoos, and scars should be clearly described as to size, colour, location on the body, and shape. Speech-The tone and manner of a person's speech may often be very important aspects of the complete description. Habitual tone should be indicated as low, medium, or loud; soft or gruff; or by other descriptive qualities. The person's manner of speaking should be indicated as cultured, vulgar, clipped, fluent, broken English with accent (identified whenever possible), or non-English speaking (language specified when possible). Such peculiarities as stuttering, nasal twang, pronounced drawl, or a mute condition should be clearly indicated and explained. Dress-Since persons may change the clothing worn, its value for descriptive purposes is limited. Noticeable habits in manner of dress, such as neatness, carelessness, and preferences of style, should be indicated. Clothing worn by a person at the time of an offence or when last seen should be described in detail, such as military, civilian, mixed military and civilian, colour(s), and condition (clean, soiled, tom, ragged, greasy, or bloodstained). Personal appearance-Neat or untidy; well-groomed or unkempt; refined or rough.  Mannerisms and habits-Often the peculiar mannerisms or traits of a person will constitute the major or key parts of this description. You should be alert to record such characteristics as the following: Feminine traits in men and masculine traits in women. Peculiarities in walking, moving, or taking. Outward emotional instability, nervousness, or indecision. Type of companions preferred. Subconscious mannerisms, such as scratching the nose, running the hand through the hair, pulling on an ear, hitching up the pants, jingling keys, or flipping coins. Facial ticks, muscular twitches, and excessive talking with the hands. Kinds of recreation preferred or hobbies pursued. Jewellery worn and types of jewellery preferred.
It is extremely important that you write down what you have observed and identified  before, during and after the ordeal. Use the techniques described here when compiling your written report. This will later be handed over to an investigating officer allocated to the case. Always keep copies for later references. You might also be asked to identify the perpetrator/s in a police line up and to give evidence in a criminal court hearing.