Book explores how, when and why fatal violence occurs, and what can be done about it

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Professor Fiona Brookman


Fiona Brookman, Professor of Criminology, has published 'Understanding Homicide' which delves into all the key themes and topics needed to understand how, when and why fatal violence occurs, and what can be done about it.

In this engaging book, Professor Brookman draws upon several decades of her own research on homicide and violence, including ethnographic research on homicide investigation in the UK and USA and interviews with violent offenders, in order to unravel the characteristics and causes of homicide, how police and forensic scientists investigate it and how it can be prevented.

Fiona wrote the original edition of the book because there was no academic book that covered the range of topics that she was teaching in her ‘Understanding Homicide’ module to Criminology students.

She said: “The first edition drew upon research from my PhD, most notably interviews with murderers and the analysis of police murder files. Some 12 years on, after Sage had asked me many times to consider writing a second edition, I finally began work on it. It took a very long time as I was so busy with other research work and of course teaching and supervising students. 

This book benefits from all the data collection and research that I have been involved with since writing the first. This includes my shift in focus from research exclusively on homicide offenders, to research on how the police, forensic scientists, and others investigate homicide and how it is adjudicated at court.”

In the first research of its kind, Fiona spent hundreds of hours interviewing detectives and forensic and digital experts, but the most revealing part was shadowing detectives at work through entire investigations, from crime scene to court:

“My research includes fieldwork here and in the US, as well as interviews with over 120 violent offenders in the UK, including 30 females. I have been very fortunate to gather and analyse data from both offenders and those in the criminal justice system who investigate their offences” she said.



Detective Superintendent Mark O’Shea, Major Crime Investigation Team at South Wales Police, said: “Fiona’s detailed research into the drivers of homicide and the methods police use to detect perpetrators will be of interest to academics and practitioners alike.”

“Her insights into digital forensic and CCTV practice have supported strategic planning decisions within police forces on where to invest investigative resources to construct the most efficient homicide Investigation Departments. I would recommend her research to SIOs and to academic researchers and anyone with an interest in modern homicide investigations.”

Fiona is an expert advisor to the Home Office Crime and Policing Group and member of the following groups:

·       USW’s Centre for Criminology and director of the Criminal Investigation Research Network

·       Home Office Impact of Forensics Project

·       National CCTV Working Group

·       National Police Chiefs’ Council Transforming (Digital) Forensics Research Working Group


‘Understanding Homicide’ is available from Sage Publishing.