Reviewing unsolved cases: The importance of external factors in prioritising and progressing cases

Research Institution / Organisation

University of Huddersfield

Principal Researcher

Kirsty Bennett

Level of Research


Project Start Date

January 2018

Research Context

The primary aim of this project is to determine the review processes that officers follow when dealing with unsolved cases, including murders, missing persons, and unidentified remains.

After identifying the review process, specific focus is afforded to the external factors that may affect how cases are prioritised and subsequently progressed, where possible. This project will specifically explore the importance of forensic evidence, the victim’s background, and the role of the media in renewing interest in unsolved cases. The end result of this project is to determine the viability of a policy/guidance document to aid the review process.

Research Methodology

This research is utilising several stages of data collection:

  1. Freedom of Information requests, to identify the prevalence of unsolved cases, determining the number of dedicated units for unsolved cases, and the staffing levels on these teams. This stage is now complete.
  2. Observations with units who review unsolved cases. Observations are currently being conducted with one force in England as they undertake reviews of unsolved cases, and those being prepared for progression to prosecution.
  3. Interviews with investigators who have experience in working murder cases, but more specifically, those who have reviewed unsolved cases.

Interim reports and publications

​Not available

Date due for completion

July 2021
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