Whether practiced by private companies, law enforcement agencies, or internal affairs organisations, the life cycle of investigations has traditionally involved gathering evidence, analysing information, developing and validating theories, forming reasonable beliefs, and finally arresting/ charging or otherwise closing out cases. Each stage of the investigative process usually introduces more information, while compelling investigators to cast back on information gathered in previous steps, so as to reach decisions that will drive the investigation forward.
The idealised process might be highly linear. Mountains of research suggest, though, that the method by which many investigating teams accumulate information is anything but. Teams still tend to compile expansive narratives, where every (subsequent) piece of information found during an investigation gets added to the end of the narrative, irrespective of when it actually happened in real time.
Not unreasonably, this practice has evolved as part of the job. Nevertheless, it’s created logistical nightmares for investigators and their supervisors, seeking to locate or analyse specific pieces of information about a given event or fit that information into a larger picture. Rather than being spent investigating, time is lost “curing” information that’s already been gathered.
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