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Title: Behavioural investigation advice in difficult to detect murders; a pragmatic psychological approach
Author: Cole, Terri
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis examines the provision of behavioural investigative advice to difficult to detect murder investigations in the UK using a Pragmatic Psychological approach. Its aim is to assist practitioners - notably Senior Investigating Officers (SIOs) in solving cases, and Behavioural Investigative Advisers (BIAs) to provide the best possible advice. A review is undertaken of the definitions and incidence of murder followed by a systematic evaluation of the origins of offender profiling and its development into Behavioural Investigative Advice. The theoretical formulation, Pragmatic Psychology, is then described and explained and a justification for its use as the conceptual basis for the present research is given. The key principles of the approach are articulated which identifies the appropriateness of the mixed methods research design undertaken in the present research. The first study involved semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of 11 experienced SIOs. Utilising Pragmatic Psychology principles, their working knowledge of cases was tapped to elicit what information they as investigators want from BIAs; when they want it; and in what format. This was deemed to be vital as pragmatic enquiry recognises the importance of 'asking the clients', and there is a specific gap in the literature of research being grounded in practitioner needs (and then tailoring subsequent research to try and address them). The interviews were transcribed verbatim, and qualitative content analysis was undertaken following the 'concept book' approa~h using the NUDIST package. Individual comments were reported to retain the richness of the accounts, and overall themes were extracted and developed into a systemic summary, depicted as a model of the SIO's investigative process (pre charge) and how this relates to the products required from the BIA. A key finding was that a multitude of information is drip fed into an investigation at different stages, but the type of information available at different times is somewhat predictable. This was important to identify in preparation for study two, in order to elicit realistic variables (offence data) which may be available to the investigation (and BIA) atdifferent stages. For example as soon as the body is discovered it is most likely that the sex of the victim, location, position and state of undress of the body will be known. Additionally in the first 24 hours information regarding the nature of injuries, the age and ethnicity of the victim and whether or not items have been left at the crime scene can usually be determined. As such, any predictions made upon such variables, can be given within the first day of the investigation. Thereafter additional information regarding the victim's lifestyle, further details of the offence, witnesses and suspects become available and can then be fed in to the analysis as appropriate. Another key finding was that investigators wanted a variety of different types of information from BIAs including assistance with offence linkage; house to house enquiries and searches; interview and media strategies; risk assessment of further offending; prioritisation of actions, messages, lines of enquiry, persons of interest and search parameters; assistance with team welfare; crime scene assessment; hypotheses generation and testing; and consideration of motivation. It became apparent that it was important to consider investigator's needs holistically, and provide an itemised listing of all requirements as a basis for areas of future research and consideration by BIAs. Specifically offender profiling advice was sought by the investigators, but the interviewees articulated that whilst information regarding the age, sex, ethnicity, criminal history of the likely offender was of use, additional areas - including those not readily searchable on poliCing systems (such as education, living arrangements, employment, lifestyle, demeanour, family background, and medical conditions) may also be of assistance. A further key finding was that the Senior Investigating Officers wanted assistance from the BIA throughout the course of the investigation, with initial advice being refined as necessary as more information becomes available. They also wanted reports submitted within the agreed timescales, and to include an executive summary, and the evidence base for the provided information, including database sources and practitioner experience. The team approach to profiling, utilising a variety of BIAs was also advocated. The interviewees stated they wanted BIA advice disseminated in a secure manner. The benefit of submitting written reports was discussed, however an additional verbal presentation to the investigation team was also considered beneficialThe second study focussed specifically upon the provision of statistical offender profiling advice to investigations. A total of 312 detected murder cases from the Serious Crime Analysis Section (SeAS) database were explored to search for patterns regarding what is known about the offence at different stages of an investigation, i.e. the first hour (also known as the golden hour) within the first 24 hours and thereafter. The data were analysed to search for features which could reliably be predicted regarding the offender responsible at each of these stages. In compliance with the Pragmatic Psychology approach, the research was organic, in that the variables regarding the offence (including victim and crime scene), and the variables regarding the offender, were drawn out of the information available to the investigation and practical requirements of the SIO as articulated by the interviewees in study one. Study two was split into two parts - the first undertaking univariate and bivariate quantitative analysis (base rate frequencies; chi square; odds ratios), and the second involving multivariate statistics (configural frequency analysis; logistic regression). The base rate frequencies confirmed some interesting findings, suggesting for example that most offenders are white males, aged between 18-40 years, who have some form of previous conviction at the time of the offence. The bivariate and multivariate techniques all resulted in some significant findings, suggesting there are associations between some variables known about a difficult to detect murder offence, and features known to be of use to SIOs regarding the type of offender responsible. For example bivariate analysis found that 93% of white victims were killed by white offenders; 86% of male victims were killed by someone with a previous conviction; and 84% of prostitute victims, and 83% of victims who are drug users or alcohol abusers, were killed by an offender who was known to them in some capacity. Multivariate analysis found all (N=32) of the offences involving a white adult female victim who was a prostitute and considered vulnerable were killed by an offender not known to have been familiar with the body recovery site, and the vast majority (29/32) were killed by a non white individual. Similarly, nearly all (20/21) of the offences involving an item of clothing and an item of value being taken and precautions to avoid detection at the crime scene involved white offenders with no previous convictionsAs the research was pragmatic, consideration was given not only to statistically significant findings, but also to potential performance if applied to future (undetected) cases. The different statistical techniques were compared to one another, and some of the more complex analyses (e.g. logistic regression) did not significantly enhance predictions from those which could be made on the basis of more simplistic methods (e.g. base rate frequency). As such, pragmatic recommendation was made as to which findings regarding the offender should be reported in different offence situations. Finally, building on previous practice advice, the thesis proposed future recommendations for SIOs, BIAs, the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) and the wider police service. A programme of future research has been suggested that incorporates other aspects of behavioural investigative advice for any form of sexual offence.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available