A global network for research into child death to be launched

Study examines emotional stress of child homicide on police

Mon, 05 Jun 2017 15:15:00 BST

The University of Huddersfield will be at the centre of the International Network for Research into Child Death 

A global network for research into child death to be launched
THE University of Huddersfield is to be at the centre of an international network that links forensic scientists, criminology researchers and police officers, who aim to reduce levels of suspicious child deaths, improve ways of investigating the crime and understand the psychological and emotional impact on detectives and others who regularly deal with it during their careers. 

Dr Jason Roach is pictured (right) with Kathryn Sharratt (centre) and Dr Ashley Cartwright (left) who is co-author of an article with Dr Roach describing the early findings of ongoing research into the effects on police investigators of investigating child homicide

The network is the outcome of a two-day conference that took place at the University. Its principal organiser was Dr Jason Roach, who is a Reader in Crime and Policing. Child homicide is one of his major research areas and his recent publications include a co-authored article describing the early findings of ongoing research into the effects on police investigators of investigating child homicide. 

This will be a key area for the new International Network for Research into Child Death that will be administered by Dr Roach at the University of Huddersfield.  Regular conferences and funded research collaborations will take place. 

‌Dr Roach explained that an informal network of researchers into child death had already taken shape. But now delegates at the conference had decided to formalise the arrangement. 

A global network for research into child death to be launched The event held at the University of Huddersfield was titled Advances in Preventing and Investigating Suspicious Child Death. Its first day consisted of papers delivered by academics and police officers from the UK and overseas, dealing with topics that included the personality of offenders and the decision making processes for senior investigating officers in child homicide cases. 

‌Dr Roach’s own contributions included a paper on cognitive bias and child homicide investigation, while University of Huddersfield lecturer Kathryn Sharratt and former PhD student Dr Ashley Cartwright spoke about their study of the cognitive and emotional effects of child homicide on investigators. 

Dr Roach also spoke about his work with Professor Robin Bryant, of Canterbury Christ Church University, examining the suspicious deaths of children less than one-year-old. This is the most populated category of homicide victims in the UK, said Dr Roach, and the difficulties and delays in diagnosing the cause of death are a major issue, not least for investigators.

“It takes a big toll on them.  It could be a year before they get any kind of conclusion back from a pathologist or even a coroner and   that’s a long while to have a child death investigation hanging over your head.” 

The second day of the event included workshops and discussions leading to the proposal to form the International Network. Speakers included Detective Chief Inspector Ceri Hughes (pictured right), who described the role of the Child Death Group of the National Police Chiefs’ Council. 

In addition to academic researchers and police officers, it was agreed that the International Network would be expanded to include pediatricians and specialists of child protection and emergency medicine, said Dr Roach.

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