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Investigating homicide: back to the future

Investigating homicide: back to the future The purpose of this paper is to suggest two things: first, that the scientific and technological developments and increased regulation that have shaped homicide investigations in England and Wales over the last few decades have provided today’s investigators with opportunities not available to their predecessors, and play a key role in solving unsolved homicides. Second, however, the authors suggest that such developments have created new challenges for investigators, challenges that impede current investigations, potentially creating the future unsolved cases.Design/methodology/approachThis paper draws on two qualitative studies that comprised over eight months of ethnographic research, observations, interviews with serving and retired homicide detectives and case file analysis.FindingsThe widespread changes to homicide investigations in England and Wales have been valuable in many respects, notably, they have allowed detectives to look back in time and bring longstanding unsolved cases to a close. However, change, although well intentioned, might actually be creating future cold cases as detectives endeavour to manage the volume of information now generated during investigations, fast evolving scientific and technological techniques and an increase in bureaucracy.Practical implicationsThis study is helpful for: improving investigative practice; learning from change; reducing unsolved homicides vs a rise in new cold cases; and innovative and entrepreneurial investigators.Originality/valueUtilising qualitative research, this paper contributes to the academic literature exploring homicide investigation in England and Wales, offering insight into the challenges facing detectives and the potential impact of these upon solving past and present homicide cases. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice Emerald Publishing

Investigating homicide: back to the future

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
2056-3841
DOI
10.1108/jcrpp-03-2019-0021
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to suggest two things: first, that the scientific and technological developments and increased regulation that have shaped homicide investigations in England and Wales over the last few decades have provided today’s investigators with opportunities not available to their predecessors, and play a key role in solving unsolved homicides. Second, however, the authors suggest that such developments have created new challenges for investigators, challenges that impede current investigations, potentially creating the future unsolved cases.Design/methodology/approachThis paper draws on two qualitative studies that comprised over eight months of ethnographic research, observations, interviews with serving and retired homicide detectives and case file analysis.FindingsThe widespread changes to homicide investigations in England and Wales have been valuable in many respects, notably, they have allowed detectives to look back in time and bring longstanding unsolved cases to a close. However, change, although well intentioned, might actually be creating future cold cases as detectives endeavour to manage the volume of information now generated during investigations, fast evolving scientific and technological techniques and an increase in bureaucracy.Practical implicationsThis study is helpful for: improving investigative practice; learning from change; reducing unsolved homicides vs a rise in new cold cases; and innovative and entrepreneurial investigators.Originality/valueUtilising qualitative research, this paper contributes to the academic literature exploring homicide investigation in England and Wales, offering insight into the challenges facing detectives and the potential impact of these upon solving past and present homicide cases.

Journal

Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and PracticeEmerald Publishing

Published: Sep 19, 2019

Keywords: Qualitative research; Change; Cold case; Detective work; Homicide investigations; Unsolved homicide cases

References