The Murder Inquiry and the Complexities of Victim Experiences: The Need for a Community and Social Justice Perspective

Published 17/12/2008
Type Article
Author(s) Dr Sheila Brown
Corresponding Authors Dr Sheila Brown, Lecturer in Criminology, University of Plymouth

This paper draws on research evidence from the author’s study of murder investigation in order to generate questions about social and welfare consequences of the contemporary murder inquiry. The paper discusses findings from interviews with Senior Investigating Officers, Detectives from Outside Inquiry Teams and Family Liaison Officers, Scientific Support, and Media Communications divisions. The legal-scientific logic of responding to murder, with an ever sharper focus on forensic strategy, drives the murder inquiry and characterises the wider policy and social response to murder. This excludes a broader community justice perspective on criminal homicide victimization. The need to respond effectively to complex cumulative effects of the murder inquiry itself on primary victims and the homicide-bereaved is neglected. Third Sector organizations are left with inadequate resources to ‘pick up the pieces’. The paper concludes by supporting recent critics of victim policies and victim based research, in calling for further collaborative research between third sector organizations and universities with the aim of achieving better outcomes for victims; and asserts the need for a community and social justice, rather than an exclusively juridical perspective.