Data published by the Sunday Times 07/08/16 revealed unsolved homicides in England and Wales, 13% in 1995-6, have risen to 23% in 2014-15. This is against a background of a rising population and falling criminality, and points squarely at reduced manning and falling budgets at all police forces.
Unlike the TV depictions of Waking the Dead and New Tricks, cold case reviews take painstaking amounts of work, done over many months and years, a commitment many police forces are loathe to fund, given the pressure to solve current caseloads. Pete Beirne, the lead investigator at the ‘cold case’ unit in Thames Valley Police said, ‘On a live investigation the pressure is on to get a result and they do a lot of forensic work very, very quickly, whereas,we don’t do that. Unfortunately it all comes down to the finances. You can jump the queue but you have to pay a premium price.’
The good news is the increased accuracy of DNA. Nowadays, if a family member of an unconvicted perpetrator is involved in petty crime and required to give a sample, the system will flag the similarity of the family member’s DNA to the perpetrator’s and alert the relevant officers.