Capturing Killers: The Construction of CCTV Evidence during Homicide Investigations

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Drawing upon quantitative and qualitative data gathered during a four-year ethnographic study of 44 British homicide investigations, this paper advances the sparse literature on how closed-circuit television (CCTV) contributes to criminal investigations and the risks associated with its use. Based on insights gleaned from interviews with homicide detectives, analysis of case files and observations of live homicide investigations, we examine how CCTV is used during homicide investigations focusing principally on two key investigative moments – identifying and charging suspects. Our quantitative data indicate that CCTV is used more frequently than any other kind of forensic science or technology to both identify and charge suspects. Nevertheless, our qualitative data reveal numerous challenges associated with how CCTV footage is recovered, viewed, shared, interpreted and packaged for court. We reveal the individual and organisational processes and workarounds that have emerged in a socio-technical landscape that lacks clear standards and principles. We discuss the implications of these findings for practice and policy and their relevance to questions about the socially constructed nature of forensic scientific knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalPolicing and Society: An International Journal of Research and Policy
Issue number00
Early online date31 Jan 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Jan 2021


  • homicide investigation
  • CCTV
  • interpretation
  • expert evidence


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