Sensemaking and evidence in criminal investigations of organised crime: A literature review

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Producing evidence that can be used in court is a central goal of criminal investigations. Forensic science focuses with considerable success on the production of pieces of evidence from specific sources. However, less is known about how a team of investigating police officers progressively produces a body of evidence during the course of a criminal investigation.

This literature review uses Weickian sensemaking to analyse what is known about this process in criminal investigations into organised crime. Focusing on the criminal investigation team, collective sensemaking is used as a lens through which to place the reasoning processes used in constructing evidence in a social context. In addition to describing three constituent parts of collective sensemaking relevant for criminal investigations, six factors are identified that influence the quality of collective sensemaking. Building on these results, nine focal points are presented for analysing the sensemaking processes in a criminal investigation team, aimed at advancing knowledge about the production of evidence in criminal investigations of organised crime. Furthermore, a definition of evidence is developed that is suitable for studying sensemaking in the context of an ongoing criminal investigation.

Reference Visser, C., Markus, A., de Poot, C., Kop, N., & Weggeman, M. (2023). Sensemaking and evidence in criminal investigations of organised crime: A literature review. International Journal of Police Science & Management, 1-16. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1177/14613557231196377
3 September 2023

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