PhD examines changes to police investigation of homicide


PhD Criminology student Sophie Pike is exploring changes to the police investigation of homicide from the 1980s to the present day.

I really enjoy interviewing homicide detectives. They are full of stories and have been really forthcoming in giving their perspectives on how and why investigation has changed, and the impact of these changes.  

The first day I spent in a major incident room was fascinating. I was allowed to sit in on a briefing and talk to the detectives on the team. They were also investigating a historic cold case and I was able to look through some of the paperwork from the original investigation. It gave me a real understanding of what detective work at that time entailed.  

The public inquiry that followed the widely criticised investigation into the crimes of Peter Sutcliffe (the Yorkshire Ripper) was a pivotal moment in the investigation of major crime. It prompted a process of reform that started in the 1980s and has continued to the present day. 

Recent advancements in science and technology have improved investigations, yet we continue to see flawed and highly criticised investigations. This suggests that despite considerable reform, the investigation of homicide still remains fallible.  

My research is examining the reasons for this, and will hopefully provide some positive insights into best investigative practice – both past and present.