Martin Innes (1999) 'Beyond the Macpherson Report: Managing Murder Inquiries in Context'
Sociological Research Online, vol. 4, no. 1, <http://www.socresonline.org.uk/4/lawrence/innes.html>
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Received: 24/03/99 Accepted: 25/03/99 Published: 31/3/99
Killing is concentrated among young men, and so to, to a lesser extent is the risk of being killed. (Daly and Wilson, 1988: p. 168)
Inspector Steven Groves ... and others appear to have assumed that there had been a fight. ... We believe that Mr Brooks' colour and such sterotyping played their part in the collective failure of those involved to treat him properly and according to his needs.
Anybody who listened to the evidence of the officers involved in the initial police action after the murder would, so all the members of the Inquiry feel, be astonished at the lack of command and lack of organisation of what took place. Police officers who gave evidence before us believed that everything they had done had been properly organised and professionally carried out. That does not appear to us to be the position.
It can be seen at once that the whole picture is one of disarray and uncertainty. What is certain is that Mr Groves never established any degree of direction or control, except perhaps in the ultimate dragon light search which did take place around midnight...His prime responsibility it seems to us was to establish as far as possible what had happened and to take control of the scene...
Everyone will tell you that it's the first 24-48 hours that are most important. If you haven't picked up a decent lead by then, you can be fairly sure you're in for the long haul.
It's not as big a problem as it used to be, because I think officers are more aware, but one of the problems we still have is protecting the scene until a forensic team can get in to do their thing.
The standard of command and co-ordination during the first two hours after this murder was in the opinion of the Inquiry abysmal. (¶11.36)
Whilst this may be true, it does not make it unique. On the basis of the research that I have conducted, the earliest stages of a murder inquiry appear to often be a weak point and it can often take several hours for an organisational framework to be established and to bring a clear sense of order to the police activities. This may explain why, despite the failings that Macpherson identifies, the police felt that their actions in the aftermath of the incident 'had been properly organised and professionally carried out'.
HOLMES may blunt the efforts of good investigators...the whole system can easily become bogged down in information and the whole team of investigators are looking at this bit of information, which is probably irrelevant to what they're trying to achieve. It doesn't matter how good the investigators are if they're working in that situation.
There's a school of thought in the police service saying too much money is put into investigating murders...Certain senior officers will say 14 days and bonk... We'll throw money and resources at a case for 14 days and if you haven't made progress then that's it. I'm fighting some real battles there...I think they're more questioning now and will be taking into account a whole range of issues. I don't know what the public's attitude is to whether you 'pull' a murder enquiry after three weeks...
...this investigation was grossly understaffed both in the incident room and externally. (32.16)
2Source: Criminal Statistics England and Wales 1994, Table 4.8.
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