n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Case docket analysis : an effective crime information product for criminal investigators, crime analysts and crime researchers

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The use of case docket analysis as a crime information product is often documented as significant to many criminal fact-finding activities. Despite the often theoretical reference to case docket analysis in literature, such as research papers and crime reports, the understanding and real-life experiences of criminal investigators, crime analysts and crime researchers regarding the practicability of this product remain silent. Insight into the dynamics of case docket analysis could inform these role-players of the value of case docket analysis as an effective crime information product. This article explores and describes criminal investigators', crime analysts' and crime researchers' first-hand understanding and operational experiences about the 'what', 'why' and 'how' of case docket analysis to assist in uncovering the hidden transcripts in crime data and translating such data into usable empirical evidence. The data was generated from a sample of Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Unit detectives, experts from the Investigative Psychology Unit (IPU) of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and crime analysts and information managers attached to the SAPS's Crime Information Management Centre (CIMC) and Organised Crime Unit. The experiences of the selected sample were probed by means of semi-structured interviews. From the results of this research it was confirmed that docket analysis serves to understand holistically the different dynamics and contributing factors of crime, fuel policing and investigative decision making, analyse specific crime incidents in terms of, amongst others, modus operandi, possibilities for linkages and narrows down the scope of an investigation. This study concluded that case docket analysis is information-driven and a viable and effective crime information product that has the potential to narrow the focus of criminal investigation. Finally, this article recommends the implementation of a more specific and analytical approach to case docket analysis as opposed to a generalised and haphazard approach. It is the view of the authors that the aforementioned approach would contribute significantly to a more pragmatic methodology which gives due credence to criminal investigation as a systematic and organised search for the truth.


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