Investigating Homicide: Back to the Future

Cheryl Allsop, Sophie Pike

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In this article we 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, we suggest that such developments have created new challenges for investigators, challenges that impede current investigations, potentially creating our future unsolved cases.

This paper draws on two qualitative studies that comprised over 8 months of ethnographic research, observations, interviews with serving and retired homicide detectives and case file analysis.
The 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
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-239
JournalJournal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sept 2019


  • homicide investigations
  • cold cases
  • Detective work
  • qualitative research
  • change
  • unsolved homicide cases


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