What Factors Influence Whether Homicide Cases are Solved? Insights from Qualitative Research with Detectives in Great Britain and the USA

Fiona Brookman, Edward Maguire, Mike Maguire

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    Abstract

    A growing body of research examines the factors that influence the likelihood of solving homicide cases. Much of this research is North American and based mainly on quantitative analysis of police data. It also tends to focus on factors apparently beyond police control, such as victim or incident-related characteristics, encouraging a somewhat deterministic view of investigative outcomes. This paper uses interviews with homicide detectives and observations of investigations in Great Britain and the United States, to explore factors which in the light of experience ‘on the ground’ appear to affect the chances of solving homicides – the focus being particularly on ‘organisational’ factors related to police policy and practice. Although we find some important differences between nations, the weight of qualitative evidence gathered suggests that the likelihood of solving even the most challenging homicide cases in both nations can be influenced by police agency at the individual and strategic level.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)145-174
    Number of pages30
    JournalHomicide Studies
    Volume23
    Issue number2
    Early online date15 Aug 2018
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019

    Keywords

    • homicide
    • criminal investigation
    • clearance rate
    • detection rate
    • solvability
    • qualitative research
    • USA and Great Britain
    • homicide investigation
    • detectives

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