The present thesis explores how both ‘live’ (current) and ‘cold’ (often unresolved) UK homicide investigations are currently, and have been in the past, conducted. In contrast to other related research, it focuses in particular on underpinning theory, organisational processes and investigator practice. By comparing ‘cold’ and ‘current’ homicide investigations, it explores their investigative similarities and differences, and also other more complex factors that have combined to alter the way in which approaches to both, as well as their outcomes, have changed over time.

To offer a rounded, holistic overview of the field, a range of perspectives on homicide investigation are presented, first the detail in case and process-specific datasets at three levels, specifically individual cases, Force–level approaches and National overviews, and second, the personal and professional experiences of lead investigators, the Senior Investigating Officers, which also explores how perspective and context can influence these investigations.

The early chapters explore the theoretical and practical underpinning influencing the ‘scenario’ of a homicide investigation and how those have changed and impacted on investigations differently over time. They also evidence key differences between ‘initial’ and ‘subsequent’ investigations, new knowledge that in turn provides a rationale for adopting a fresh approach, namely one that rather than considering individual investigations in isolation, instead views the ‘investigative lifetime’ of a Homicide, and its management and evolution through multiple investigations and reviews, as a single process, -an ‘investigative continuum’, within which a single investigation or review is merely one part of the whole.

Later chapters explore a holistic overview of Homicide investigations, both historic and current. Specifically, they explore how Homicide-related deaths are recorded and managed at three separate levels, namely the single ‘death event’, within clusters of ‘unresolved’ cases, and by national overviews and perspectives. They also examine the specific methodology, policy, and practice of Homicide investigations, comparing case data at every level with the personal perspectives of experienced senior investigators. From this they identify a range of shortfalls and opportunities for innovation.

Firstly they question the value of these datasets as generally-accepted references for ‘stakeholders’ of Homicide investigations, and by challenging the historic and current capability and capacity of extant datasets and processes to support and manage effective investigations, and particularly unresolved or historic investigations, they argue the need for better and more useful databases to be developed. Secondly, they identify a range of process and procedural practices that of themselves can influence investigative outcomes, and from this propose a range of new measures to enhance investigative practice throughout the investigative continuum’, for example adopting investigative approaches that anticipate failure rather than success and thus better prepare investigations to avoid such failure, and arising from this concept, new approaches that properly capture and preserve investigative material in a form that creates investigative ‘time capsule’s; -repositories of material and information more fit to be revisited by future enquiries.

The research also explores the actual decisions made by Senior Investigating Officers in real homicide investigations with different outcomes, in context, and over time. Using new methodology it categorises these decisions according to their intended impact, and then contrasts them with contemporaneous investigative ‘events’.

From this it identifies a range of specific patterns in decision-making that appear to influence investigative outcomes for better or worse, findings which not just support and extend the understanding of ‘tipping points’ observed by other studies, but which go further, firstly by identifying new and additional factors in the investigative process, termed ‘transition points’, and secondly by suggesting that these appear, both in isolation and in interraction with ‘tipping points’, to influence investigative outcomes in complex and hitherto unrecognised ways.

The four perspectives provided by the research thus identify a range of issues and explore how they have combined to impact upon homicide investigations both historic and current, across the 'investigative continuum’ to date.

From this the research establishes firstly that a range of identifiable differences exist between ‘initial’ and ‘subsequent’ homicide investigations and the processes which govern them, secondly that these differences can impact upon investigative outcomes, and third, how this can happen.

It offers a range of new knowledge, concepts and approaches, almost wholly hitherto unrecognised in related research, and identifies how both individually and taken together these can influence different aspects of homicide investigation such that these factors and how they operate can be better understood.

Finally, the research findings also suggest a range of opportunities to utilise this new learning to influence not just existing investigations, but also those of future homicide events, and proposes a range of opportunities both for further research and for practical changes in investigative policy, practice, and delivery designed to in order to stimulate and improve investigative understanding, outcomes, and ‘success’.

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