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Article
Publication date: 27 January 2021

Ashley N. Hewitt, Eric Beauregard and Jonghan Sea

Early classification systems of fire setting have suffered from several limitations, including the lack of empirical validation and the focus mainly on the offender…

Abstract

Purpose

Early classification systems of fire setting have suffered from several limitations, including the lack of empirical validation and the focus mainly on the offender motivation behind this type of crime. More recent research shows that looking at the crime scene behaviors may present a more fruitful approach for helping to solve fire setting offenses. The purpose of this study is to advance current scholarship by developing a new typology of fire setting based on the combination of offender motive and crime scene behaviors.

Design/methodology/approach

Latent class analyses were used with a sample of 134 fire setters who committed 275 arsons from the Korean National Police Agency to identify distinct fire setter motivations and crime scene contexts. Chi-square and crosstabulation analysis were then conducted to determine whether crime scene behaviors were associated with distinct offender motives and vice versa. Lastly, to improve the external validity of each of the latent classes, chi-square analyses were performed using variables related to the fire setters' criminal history, sociodemographic characteristics and arson classification.

Findings

Five motive subtypes were identified as well as five distinct crime scene contexts in which serial fire setting occurs. A significant association among these classes suggests that it is possible to infer fire setters’ motive from crime scene behavior and vice versa.

Originality/value

This comprehensive typology of fire setters has potential for profiling of unknown offenders as well as for suspect prioritization in police investigations.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Book part
Publication date: 28 May 2021

Krystal Hans and Kylie Parrotta

Purpose: The authors attempt to capture new forensic science students’ pre-conceptions of the field and their assessment of competencies. Methodology: The authors surveyed…

Abstract

Purpose: The authors attempt to capture new forensic science students’ pre-conceptions of the field and their assessment of competencies. Methodology: The authors surveyed students at a Historically Black College and University and a Primarily White Institution on their viewership of crime and forensic TV shows and measured their competencies in a range of forensic science skills at the start and end of the semester, along with having students capture errors and evidence from an episode of CSI Las Vegas. Findings: Students who were viewers of crime series with and without prior forensics coursework over evaluated their level of preparedness at the start of the semester, often ranking themselves as moderately or well prepared in blood spatter analysis, fingerprinting, bodily fluid, and hair/fiber collection. Research limitations: The authors relied on a convenience sample of forensic science courses, and their comparison of student learning was disrupted by COVID-19. Originality: The authors examine student concerns with working at crime scenes and reflections on their abilities to succeed in the field. The authors discuss the need for incorporating media literacy, content warnings, and emotional socialization and professional development into forensic science curricula to better equip and prepare students for careers as crime scene investigators and forensic analysts.

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Article
Publication date: 6 November 2009

Margaret Smith Ekman and Magnus Joseph Seng

The major purpose of this paper is the review of the administration and operation of four on‐scene victim assistance units within law enforcement agencies in one Canadian…

Abstract

Purpose

The major purpose of this paper is the review of the administration and operation of four on‐scene victim assistance units within law enforcement agencies in one Canadian and three US cities. The primary purpose is to learn how these units operate and the extent to which there are accepted by the officers involved. An additional purpose is learn how many departments nationally had such units.

Design/methodology/approach

The basic methodology includes telephone interviews with key personnel in each unit, an on‐site examination of the Denver, Colorado unit, and a brief survey of large city police departments to learn the extent of on‐scene units in major US cities.

Findings

A review of the administration and operation of each unit reveals that each unit is well managed, integrated into the department's structure, and staffed with paid staff who are members of the department and volunteers. Key to the success of each unit is extensive training of victim specialists and a clear understanding between specialists and police that the officers at the scene are in charge. The findings clearly confirm that such units are well received by officers at all levels. The survey findings indicate that relatively few departments have on‐scene victim assistance units, although most do have some program to address victims' issues.

Originality/value

While there is an extensive literature on victim assistance generally, little has been written about the need for, and operation of, on‐scene victim assistance units that are part of police departments. This article contributes to knowledge in this area and suggests that such units can be a valuable asset to departments.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 32 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 30 May 2008

Richard Adderley and John Bond

The purpose of this paper is to identify a workable methodology to prioritise those crime scenes which have the greatest opportunity of a forensic recovery to enable…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify a workable methodology to prioritise those crime scenes which have the greatest opportunity of a forensic recovery to enable effective Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) resource deployment.

Design/methodology/approach

The motivation behind this work stemmed from an abundance of volume crime scenes that required examination and a lack of resources that could be deployed. Within a data mining application environment, two supervised learning algorithms were used to model Northamptonshire Police's forensic data to provide a computer‐based model that could predict the outcome of finding a forensic sample at the currently unattended scene of a crime.

Findings

Based on past data, a computer model could be produced to predict the probability of finding useful fingerprints, DNA and/or footwear marks at the scene of a volume crime. In this paper, volume crime means burglary dwelling, burglary in commercial buildings, theft of and theft from motor vehicles. The model was 68 percent accurate. CSIs were 41 percent accurate in their predictions. This has been tested within five different police forces each having differing computer systems, demonstrating that the methodology is portable.

Practical implications

The model, when connected to either a crime recording system or an incident recording system, can produce a prioritised crime scene attendance list within minutes and assess crimes/incidents as they are reported. This list can be seamlessly used in conjunction with other attendance criteria if required, e.g. vulnerable victim, etc.

Originality/value

This paper provides a scientific solution to CSI resource attendance management being proved in five different UK police forces.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 31 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 8 March 2011

E. Hulya Yukseloglu, Yasemin Mestan Cumen, S. Sebnem Ozcan, Itir Tari Comert, Gabriel Petridis and Ersi Abaci Kalfoglou

The purpose of this study is to determine the contribution of expert reports, which were prepared as a result of examining the evidence sent to Istanbul Criminal…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to determine the contribution of expert reports, which were prepared as a result of examining the evidence sent to Istanbul Criminal Laboratory, to the conclusion of judicial cases of burglary, homicide, and wounding in the provinces of Marmara Region between the years 2004‐2005.

Design/methodology/approach

In this research, 6,249 judicial cases (murder, wounding, burglary) that occurred within the borders of Marmara Region during 2004‐2005 and were submitted to Istanbul Criminal Police Laboratory (KPL) have been subjected to evaluation according to the years (2004, 2005), the type of the case (murder, wounding, or burglary), whether any sexual assaults also occurred, the existence of the biological evidence (blood, saliva, skin residue, hair, tissue, semen, blood and similar biological material), and the conclusion of cases.

Findings

When analyzing the crime types, it was seen that wounding and burglary were committed the most, respectively in 2004 and 2005. Out of total committed crimes in this period, homicide held the lowest percentage. The most evaluated biological evidence was blood. Sexual assaults realized together with violent crimes were on an average of 0.8 percent. By analyzing the biological evidence, the success in identifying the perpetrators of the cases was only 16 percent, which has to be evaluated carefully.

Originality/value

Finding evidence at the crime scene and its proper investigation and submission to courts are extremely important. From this aspect, the expert reports of the Criminal Laboratories have an important level of impact on the conclusion of the cases. Commencing with the evidence collected from homicide, wounding and burglary crimes, which were committed in Marmara Region, it is necessary to evaluate the current situation and offer proposals for increasing its effectiveness.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 34 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 19 September 2019

Valeria Abreu, Edward Barker, Hannah Dickson, Francois Husson, Sandra Flynn and Jennifer Shaw

The purpose of this paper is to identify offender typologies based on aspects of the offenders’ psychopathology and their associations with crime scene behaviours using…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify offender typologies based on aspects of the offenders’ psychopathology and their associations with crime scene behaviours using data derived from the National Confidential Enquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health concerning homicides in England and Wales committed by offenders in contact with mental health services in the year preceding the offence (n=759).

Design/methodology/approach

The authors used multiple correspondence analysis to investigate the interrelationships between the variables and hierarchical agglomerative clustering to identify offender typologies. Variables describing: the offenders’ mental health histories; the offenders’ mental state at the time of offence; characteristics useful for police investigations; and patterns of crime scene behaviours were included.

Findings

Results showed differences in the offenders’ histories in relation to their crime scene behaviours. Further, analyses revealed three homicide typologies: externalising, psychosis and depression.

Practical implications

These typologies may assist the police during homicide investigations by: furthering their understanding of the crime or likely suspect; offering insights into crime patterns; provide advice as to what an offender’s offence behaviour might signify about his/her mental health background. Findings suggest information concerning offender psychopathology may be useful for offender profiling purposes in cases of homicide offenders with schizophrenia, depression and comorbid diagnosis of personality disorder and alcohol/drug dependence.

Originality/value

Empirical studies with an emphasis on offender profiling have almost exclusively focussed on the inference of offender demographic characteristics. This study provides a first step in the exploration of offender psychopathology and its integration to the multivariate analysis of offence information for the purposes of investigative profiling of homicide by identifying the dominant patterns of mental illness within homicidal behaviour.

Details

Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice, vol. 5 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2056-3841

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Article
Publication date: 11 December 2019

Thomas J. Holt, Shelly Clevenger and Jordana Navarro

The purpose of this paper is to examine the extent to which line officers in police agencies can identify digital evidence at crime scenes, also known as the binary…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the extent to which line officers in police agencies can identify digital evidence at crime scenes, also known as the binary artifacts stored on computers, mobile devices, tablets and the internet, through an analysis of survey responses of line staff in a Midwestern state police agency.

Design/methodology/approach

An electronic survey was completed by 258 respondents using a scenario-based vignette asking them to identify where such evidence may be located during a fictitious call for service.

Findings

Most all respondents identified appropriate devices and locations where digital evidence may be stored on suspects and victims in a scenario call for service. There were significant differences in responses on the basis of recent field experience with digital evidence.

Research limitations/implications

The findings demonstrate the importance of experiential learning and training for line staff in police agencies to prepare them for basic digital evidence handling in the field. This sample is, however, based on a single state police agency and may not be reflective of other similarly sized agencies. Future research is needed to replicate this study and expand the generalizability of these findings.

Originality/value

First responders should be able to identify and secure all appropriate forms of evidence at crime scenes, regardless of crime type, while awaiting specialized investigators. This study is one of the first to consider when and how police are able to recognize digital evidence at crime scenes.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 43 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Book part
Publication date: 5 October 2017

Anna-Marie O’Connor

The popularity of television shows such as CSI:(insert appropriate city here) makes everyone think they are somehow a forensic expert. The portrayal of this kind of…

Abstract

The popularity of television shows such as CSI:(insert appropriate city here) makes everyone think they are somehow a forensic expert. The portrayal of this kind of subject on radio is of course much more complicated as each observer has an image in their own head rather than in front of their eyes. This chapter seeks to inform The Archers listeners and other interested parties about the Blossom Hill Cottage crime scene examination — what they might expect to have seen from an evidential perspective and how the findings may inform the court as to what really occurred that fateful night. The chapter presents general information about different blood patterns that may be observed at crime scenes such as this and others, what they may (or may not) mean and a discussion about the strengths and limitations of this kind of scientific examination and interpretation. Whilst this can clearly be a serious subject, the intention is to inform and (probably) bust some televisual myths with a light-hearted edge from an Archers fan and fellow Tweetalonger, additionally considering online speculation about other potential evidence.

Details

Custard, Culverts and Cake
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-285-7

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Article
Publication date: 3 August 2015

Tom Pakkanen, Angelo Zappalà, Dario Bosco, Andrea Berti and Pekka Santtila

The purpose of this paper is to explore the differences (if any) between serial and hard-to-solve one-off homicides, and to determine if it is possible to distinguish the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the differences (if any) between serial and hard-to-solve one-off homicides, and to determine if it is possible to distinguish the two types of homicides based on offence behaviours and victim characteristics.

Design/methodology/approach

A sample of 116 Italian serial homicides was compared to 45 hard-to-solve one-off homicides. Hard-to-solve one-off homicides were defined as having at least 72 hours pass between when the offence came to the knowledge of the police and when the offender was caught. Logistic regression was used to predict whether a killing was part of a series or a one-off offence.

Findings

The serial killers targeted more strangers and prostitutes, displayed a higher level of forensic awareness both before and after the killing, and had more often an apparent sexual element in their offence. Conversely, the one-off homicides were found to include more traits indicative of impulsive and expressive behaviour. The model demonstrated a good ability (AUC=0.88) to predict whether a homicide belonged to the serial or one-off category.

Research limitations/implications

The findings should be replicated using local homicide data to maximise the validity of the model in countries outside of Italy.

Practical implications

Being able to distinguish between serial and one-off homicides based on information available at a new crime scene could be practically useful for homicide investigators managing finite resources.

Originality/value

Studies comparing serial homicides to one-off homicides are scarce, and there are no studies explicitly trying to predict whether a homicide is an isolated case or part of a series.

Details

Journal of Criminal Psychology, vol. 5 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2009-3829

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2000

Martin Gill, Jerry Hart and Ken Livingstone

This paper addresses key issues in the implementation of a managed response to crime. Based on a major study of resource allocation decision‐making procedures in the…

Abstract

This paper addresses key issues in the implementation of a managed response to crime. Based on a major study of resource allocation decision‐making procedures in the British Police Service, it focuses on the “crime desk”, both as an aid to management and as an operational centre for new forms of investigation. While the authors found a clear indication that crime desks brought benefits by alleviating the administrative burden imposed by the crime recording process, evidence that their potential as an investigative resource was less clear. However, they produce a strong argument that this could be amended if key issues are understood and addressed by the police service.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 23 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

Keywords

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