Searching for the truth? A philosophical examination of criminal investigation

Savidge, Nigel (2009) Searching for the truth? A philosophical examination of criminal investigation. MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    The partisan role of the police in the investigation of crime, within an adversarial system of criminal justice, has been the subject of much criticism. This criticism has primarily revolved around a "presumption of guilt" mind-set and the gathering of evidence to support convictions. Numerous judicial inquiries and appellant court decisions have identified that such an approach to criminal investigation has led to inappropriate or unethical investigative practices. It may well be that the traditional role of the detective within the structure of the legal system has contributed to this situation. To overcome such issues, Williamson (1994:108) has proposed that investigators should redefine themselves as searchers for the truth. There is, however, a paucity of academic literature on criminal investigation which is needed to underpin such a change. The central theme of this dissertation is that, if such a redefinition is to take place, then a philosophy of criminal investigation, requiring a change from a craft to a discipline, based on understanding and knowledge rather than on regulation, must be developed to better inform practice. This literature-based investigation, drawing the on the academic disciplines of history, science and the law, aims to develop such a philosophy. It follows that any successful attempt at redefining the role of investigators as searchers for the truth will demand both a sound theoretical base and practical applicability. To achieve this, the study will explore the nature of criminal investigation within the framework of the law and identify and apply appropriate principles and research methodologies from the academic disciplines to the practice of criminal investigation. In order to achieve this overall objective, this dissertation will canvas four independent but inter-related aims. In order to support the argument that the law alone is an insufficient basis on which to develop a discipline of criminal investigation, the nature and development of criminal investigation within the context of the law will be critically examined. A content analysis of contemporary criminal investigation texts will then be conducted to identify the essential skills of a criminal investigator, determine how criminal investigation is defined and identify the fundamentals of the methodology of criminal investigation. This approach follows Kuhn's (1996:136) argument that textbooks perpetuate existing paradigms. The argument that criminal investigation should be viewed as a discipline will be explored and developed with specific reference to the research methods of the disciplines of history and science. Finally, the proposition that a search for the truth should form the basis of a philosophy of criminal investigation will be critically considered.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2011 12:48
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:15

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