What determines workload in a homicide investigation?: towards a conceptual framework

Smailes, Richard David (2013) What determines workload in a homicide investigation?: towards a conceptual framework. MA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    In the drive to understand 'demand', homicide investigation represents a complex challenge, with little conceptual theory to complement practical experience. The nature of homicide investigation workload has also changed considerably over the last ten years through legislative, technological, social and procedural developments that have exacerbated complexity and shifted the emphasis of workload to post-charge case building.
    This research aims to contribute to the conceptual understanding of homicide investigation by developing a new, empirically grounded conceptual framework through which to understand workload variation. Interviews were conducted with Senior Investigating Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service covering a sample of thirty homicide investigations, alongside a literature review and some quantitative data analysis. A 'grounded theory' approach was taken to gradually develop, test and refine the framework throughout the research.
    The framework developed suggests that a 'base demand' of mandatory work applies in virtually all homicide investigations, beyond which workload variation is primarily determined by five key drivers:
    - Comprehension: the 'head start' of known information at the outset, particularly with regards to offender identity(s);
    - Confirmation: the presence of compelling evidence at the outset;
    - Complexity: based on characteristics of the case such as the number of suspects, criminality, scale of scenes, and foreign nationality;
    - Concern: the degree of media exposure and safety and welfare risk;
    - Cooperation: the degree of public and private assistance in the investigation.
    Ultimately, however, workload is governed by investigative strategies and parameters adopted by the SIO, and can be impacted at any point by unforeseen 'events'.
    The unique nature, variability and complexity of homicide investigations is such that no simple formula can adequately capture the drivers of variation without some exceptions and unusual cases. Nevertheless it is believed that the framework developed represents a step forward in conceptual understanding, with potential value inside and outside the MPS as a structured foundation for case assessment, and as such supporting more consistent resource management and planning decision making.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2013 09:00
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 12:31
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/13947

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