Contribution to New Methods of Homicide Investigation

Professor Fiona Brookman

Professor Fiona Brookman is one of the few academics in the United Kingdom studying both the nature of homicide and police homicide investigation.

She is the only criminologist in the UK to use this knowledge to inform directly methods of homicide investigation in both the UK and the United States (US).

Fiona’s research has produced new insights into the nature and circumstances of homicide and homicide investigation. The first four pages on the Murder Investigation Manual, the definitive guide on homicide investigation in Britain, are based on Fiona’s research on the characteristics of homicide.

Professor Brookman’s first area of research interest started with her PhD entitled ‘Dying for Control: Men, Murder and Sub-lethal Violence in the UK’ completed in 2000 (Brookman, 2000). This was the first academic examination of homicide in the UK for several decades and involved the analysis of 3,474 homicide cases from the Home Office Homicide Index, 95 police murder files and 20 interviews with male killers. The PhD dissertation was later published as a book by Sage in 2005 under the title Understanding Homicide. The book also included several new chapters on the topics of corporate homicide, investigation of homicide, and preventing homicide in the UK.

The second area of interest began in 2008 when Professor Brookman began to undertake research into police homicide investigative methods in the UK. This gathered momentum in 2010 when Brookman conceived and hosted an international homicide and major crime investigation symposium in Cardiff. One of the aims of the symposium was to establish a research network and instigate a programme of research and publishing among homicide investigators and academics working in this area. This resulted in a special issue of the journal Policing and Society titled Homicide and Major Crime Investigation edited by Professor’s Brookman and Innes. In that volume, the editors included their own paper titled, ‘The problem of success: What is a good homicide investigation?’ (Brookman and Innes, 2013). Fiona has since exstended her ethnographic research to homicide units in the USA.

Key achievements

  • The typologies of homicide were developed from the research conducted by Professor Brookman as part of her PhD dissertation (Brookman, 2000). The typology and other aspects of her work were reproduced in the British Murder Investigation Manual and helped to guide Senior Investigating Officers (SIOs) in planning effective investigative strategies.
  • Professor Brookman’s proposal for using new ways of evaluating police performance in homicide investigation are included in the directives of the International Association of Chiefs of Police in the USA titled, 10 Things Chiefs can do to Positively Impact Homicide Investigation Outcomes. The 10th directive – ‘Measure beyond closure’ – draw exclusively on Brookman and Innes’ article on defining success in homicide investigation’ and reproduces the four distinct measures of investigative success. These recommendations derived directly from Fiona’s research and from the knowledge obtained about homicide investigation while conducting research in the US and the UK.
  • Professor Brookman has established and Chairs the Criminal Investigation Research Network (CIRN) to enhance international collaboration between researchers, practitioners and policy makers with a view to producing new insights into major crime investigation.