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December 27th, 2005

Cold Case Work in the UK

I talked to John Bearchell last year. Bearchell is an Acting Detective Chief Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police Service, and the Commander of Homicide Support, which includes the Murder Review Group. Formed in 1999, the Murder Review Group investigates serious crimes in London including unsolved murders. With a staff of about 75, it is the largest such group in the United Kingdom. The Murder Review Group utilizes the newer LCN testing for DNA analysis (low copy number – this enables them to test from smaller samples). LCN testing should be available in New York when the new lab at the OCME is complete (Office of the Chief Medical Examiner).

Like New York, the Murder Review Group generally looks at cases going back to 1985, but they will look at earlier murders on a case-by-case request. Their clearance, (they call it detection rate) is 90% or better, according to Bearchell. With roughly 200 murders a year in London, that’s 20 cold cases every year.

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