Homicide Solvability and Applied Victimology in New South Wales, 1994-2013

  • Amber McKinley

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Extant research demonstrates that police investigators are traditionally offender-focused, in that the main aim of a police investigation is to bring the Person of Interest (POI) to justice. Within such a working environment, the victim is a source of evidence and often almost a secondary concern when considering their individual risk, their motivation and involvement in interaction prior to the crime perpetrated against them. In the past 25 years Australian police have been able to solve, on average, 88% of all reported homicides. This study was designed to discover factors that could potentially increase this percentage.The main aim of this thesis was to discover if there were any solvability factors, related specifically to the victim, that could inform the investigators of ‘why this victim, this time, this crime’. Once numerous solvability factors were identified via an extensive literature review, the second stage of the thesis statistically tested them for predictability, using categorical regression. When that testing was complete, the third and final stage of the research was completed to discover if there were any further solvability factors that could be identified, via reviewing 40 Briefs of Evidence (BoE), provided by the NSW State Crime Command Homicide Squad. This study is the first of its size in Australia and its results, although specific to New South Wales (NSW), could be extrapolated to the rest of the nation due to the socio-demographic range within NSW.Combining all these tested and verified solvability factors created the Applied Victimology Matrix. This matrix is the outcome of this PhD research and creates a much greater focus on the victim that goes beyond individual and psychological factors, and essentially is the process of identifying the victim’s lifestyle, risk factors, specific personal traits, life goals and behaviour, and their direct impact or involvement on the crime that sees them harmed. Hence, it widens the parameters of the investigation to include more sociological factors of the victim’s life to assist the police to manage the victim throughout the process of the investigation, identify lines of investigative enquiry, and create a more detailed Brief of Evidence (BoE). This is the first research of its kind and size using mixed-methodologies in Australia, and some of the findings contradict extant research and previous literature on homicide solvability.
Date of Award2015
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorWayne Petherick (Supervisor)

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