This paper aims to examine the influence of police cultural knowledge on the investigation of violent serial crimes. Specifically, it aims to identify whether such knowledge impacts the way in which investigative techniques are implemented. Of particular interest is the police knowledge specific to victims of violent serial crimes.
A case study analysis of five incidents of serial murder and four incidents of serial rape in Australia was conducted. This included a qualitative analysis of cold case files from New South Wales Police, Australia. These data were triangulated with data obtained from interviews with detectives who had investigated incidents of serial murder and serial rape from that agency.
The police cultural knowledge relating to the victims of these crimes at the time of reporting negatively impacted the subsequent investigation of these cases. This resulted in a marked delay in the recognition of cases as part of a series of crimes and a delay in the allocation of investigative resources. This knowledge was informed by police experience in street policing, not from experience in the investigation of violent serial crimes.
This paper is limited to selected cases of serial crimes that occurred in Australia.
This research suggests that police cultural understandings of victims need to be reviewed and changed to include knowledge of serial crime victims, offenders and their crimes. Such changes could contribute to improved recognition of related crimes as being serial in nature, essentially opening the way to preventing further victimisation.
There is no research that considers the impact of police cultural knowledge on the investigation of violent serial crime, and its subsequent contribution to the length of time of the series of crimes remains unconnected.
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