Personal profile

Research interests

  • Homicide
  • Violence
  • Missing people 
  • Vulnerability 
  • Major crime investigation
  • Cold case reviews 
  • Policing
  • Ethnography
  • Qualitative research
  • NVivo

 

Supervision

Helen currently supervises five PhD students on topics that include: the role of digital forensics in major crime investigations; the provision of forensic science to serious crime investigations; the role of crime scene investigators at sudden, and susicious deaths; the declining charge rate in homicide offences, and the trajectories of missing young people. 

Helen is interested in supervising students who would like to undertake (qualitative) research around homicide investigation, major crime investigation, missing persons, cold case reviews, policing, forensic science, digital evidence, vulnerability, miscarriages of justice, and the criminal justice process. 

Research interests

Helen joined USW in January 2015 and worked as a Research Fellow alongside Professor Fiona Brookman on the Homicide Investigation and Forensic Science Project (2015-2018, funded by The Leverhulme Trust). The project examined the role of forensic science and digital technologies within British homicide investigations. Helen gained substantial experience of interviewing homicide detectives, forensic scientists, and digital experts, and observed several live homicide investigations, from crime scene through to court. Findings from the project have been disseminated widely, for example, they have helped to inform the Home Office Impact of Forensic Science project. Helen and Fiona are continuing to analyse the data and engage with key stakeholders from the Home Office, Forensic Capability Network and National Police Chiefs’ Council.

In May 2021, Helen and Dr Cheryl Allsop were awarded £121,802 from the Home Office STAR fund for their project, 'Missing-Murdered: Identifying Vulnerabilities and Risk Factors’. The project seeks to understand commonalities and characteristics to assist in developing toolkits for frontline police officers to mitigate against the challenges and risks associated with recognising and responding to homicide in missing persons investigations.  The project will help the police to spot the triggers which might indicate homicide when dealing with missing person reports.

Experience

Prior to joining USW in January 2015, Helen worked for Leicestershire Police for over twelve years. This included roles as a Crime Recorder/Receiver and Research Officer. Between June 2007 - November 2010, Helen worked as the Protecting Vulnerable People Intelligence analyst, with analytical responsibility for the Public Protection Investigation Unit, which included the child abuse investigation unit, sexual and dangerous offenders, serious sexual offences, and child sexual exploitation. Helen utilised analytical techniques and specialised IT software (i2 Analyst Notebook) to create analytical products, which assisted detectives in the investigation of crime and the presentation of material at court.

Most recently (November 2010 - January 2015), Helen was a Review Officer - she worked as part of a team reviewing undetected homicides, domestic homicides, stranger rapes, cold cases, serious and organised crime, and long-term missing persons. Helen outlined recommendations for further work, identified good practice, and ensured the investigation conformed to nationally approved standards, had not overlooked any investigative opportunities and had been conducted with integrity and objectivity. As part of this role, Helen gained experience of using police databases such as HOLMES (used for major crimes) and COMPACT (used for missing person investigations). She also attended post-mortems and completed placements with forensic services, the dog section and firearms unit.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Criminology, PhD, The pains of custody: how young men cope through the criminal justice system, University of Hull

Clinical criminology, MSc, Suicide, self-injury and related support services: considering the experiences, opinions and recommendations of staff and young offenders, University of Leicester

Psychology, BSc, University of Leicester

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