The use of rapid identification information at the crime scene; similarities and differences between English and Dutch CSIs

Madeleine de Gruijter, Christianne J. de Poot

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Abstract

This study replicates previous research that investigated the influence of rapid identification information on the interpretation of a crime scene conducted with English crime scene investigators (CSIs). Given the special circumstances under which CSIs in one country operate, the present study investigates the robustness and generalisability of the previous findings by studying whether identical decision-making phenomena are found in a replication study within a different police environment. Dutch CSIs (N = 65) participated in the same study and results are compared with the English findings. The utility of the replication study is reflected in both the revealed robustness and differences in the findings. First, the results demonstrate the robustness of the previous finding that ID information influenced the interpretation of the crime scene, even more when this information was provided after CSIs had constructed a provisional scenario. Secondly, this study revealed differences in decision-making: English CSIs used ID information to make efficient decisions by prioritising traces with direct progression opportunities for the case and disregarding those without direct opportunities, which led to a form of tunnel vision, namely the ignorance of the involvement of a second offender. Dutch CSIs showed to be less prone to bias towards traces that produced database matches.Dutch CSIs seemed to be more focused on the relation of the trace with the crime, while English CSIs are more focused on the database match.Consequently, important information was overlooked. We question whether the emphasis on efficiency in England goes at the expense of the quality of an investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)848-868
JournalPolicing and Society
Volume29
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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