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An Exploration of the Changes to the Police Investigation of Homicide in England and Wales from the 1980s to the Present: A Qualitative Research Study

By: Published: 2016 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 1
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The 6-year investigation by England's West Yorkshire Police to apprehend Peter Sutcliffe, a now infamous serial killer known as the Yorkshire Ripper, in the late 1970s and early 1980s was widely criticised. This led to a public inquiry calling for changes in homicide investigation. This case was pivotal in the investigation of major crime, which was already marred by corruption and miscarriages of justice, and triggered a reform process that continues today. Nevertheless, flawed and highly criticised investigations continue to occur, suggesting that the investigation of major crime remains fallible. My doctoral research explores the changing nature of homicide investigation between the 1980s and the present considering what it is to be a modern-day detective, compared to the detective of the past. Using interviews with former and serving homicide detectives, supplemented with observations of various elements of investigations and the examination of past and present homicide case files, this work will contribute to the literature about British detective work and the investigation of homicide, primarily in terms of oral history and accounts of social and organisational change. This case study details the research project and provides insight into the challenges that can arise when studying a highly sensitive topic.

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