Creativity in policing: building the necessary skills to solve complex and protracted investigations

Staines, Zoe (2011) Creativity in policing: building the necessary skills to solve complex and protracted investigations. Home team journal, pp. 133-144.

View at publisher


Despite an increased focus on proactive policing in recent years, criminal investigation is still perhaps the most important task of any law enforcement agency. As a result, the skills required to carry out a successful investigation or to be an ‘effective detective’ have been subjected to much attention and debate (Smith and Flanagan, 2000; Dean, 2000; Fahsing and Gottschalk, 2008:652). Stelfox (2008:303) states that “The service’s capacity to carry out investigations comprises almost entirely the expertise of investigators.” In this respect, Dean (2000) highlighted the need to profile criminal investigators in order to promote further understanding of the cognitive approaches they take to the process of criminal investigation. As a result of his research, Dean (2000) produced a theoretical framework of criminal investigation, which included four disparate cognitive or ‘thinking styles’. These styles were the ‘Method’, ‘Challenge’, ‘Skill’ and ‘Risk’. While the Method and Challenge styles deal with adherence to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and the internal ‘drive’ that keeps an investigator going, the Skill and Risk styles both tap on the concept of creativity in policing. It is these two latter styles that provide the focus for this paper.

This paper presents a brief discussion on Dean’s (2000) Skill and Risk styles before giving an overview of the broader literature on creativity in policing. The potential benefits of a creative approach as well as some hurdles which need to be overcome when proposing the integration of creativity within the policing sector are then discussed. Finally, the paper concludes by proposing further research into Dean’s (2000) skill and risk styles and also by stressing the need for significant changes to the structure and approach of the traditional policing organisation before creativity in policing is given the status it deserves.

Impact and interest:

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

425 since deposited on 15 May 2012
78 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 50298
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: No
Keywords: Creativity in policing, Knowledge management, Investigative thinking styles, Tacit investigative knowledge
ISSN: 2010-0167
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Justice
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 Ministry of Home Affairs
Copyright Statement: No part of this publication (i.e. content and images) may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, scanning, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Deposited On: 15 May 2012 02:53
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2012 09:51

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page