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Investigation Order and Major Crime Inquiries (From Handbook of Criminal Investigation, P 255-276, 2007, Tim Newburn, Tom Williamson, and Alan Wright, eds. -- See NCJ-220829)

NCJ Number
Martin Innes
Date Published
22 pages
This chapter provides an overview of the key policies, processes, and practices that shape how investigations of major crimes (homicides) are performed.
The chapter begins with a summary of the literature on crime investigation, in order to identify key research findings relevant to understanding how major crime investigations are conducted. Three statements about such investigations are made based on the literature review: "investigative work is routinized and ordered;" "investigations are forms of information work;" and "accounts of the crime are artefacts of police methods." The chapter then turns to discussions of the three key interconnected movements that compose the structure for investigating homicides. The first movement is "identifying and acquiring," which consists of locating and securing access to evidence likely to be relevant in establishing who did what to whom and why. Types of such evidence are identified. The identification and collection of evidence is dependent on the resources of personnel and technology available for the investigation. As more personnel and advanced technology are available for an investigation, more evidence is likely to be detected and analyzed. The second movement in major investigations, "interpreting and understanding," pertains to the analysis of what various types of evidence means in reconstructing how the crime occurred and the identification of the perpetrator. It is important that investigators draw their interpretations of a case from the evidence rather than impose their subjective beliefs about a case on the evidence. The third movement is "ordering and representing," which involves assessing the strength of the evidence in the case in terms of establishing "beyond reasonable doubt" that a particular suspect committed the crime. The evidence should be persuasively organized and interpreted to produce a narrative regarding a particular suspect's motivation, method, and contact with the victim in the course of committing the crime. 45 references