Unsolved crimes in Comet country under spotlight

PUBLISHED: 10:54 01 November 2006 | UPDATED: 11:08 06 May 2010

The Cold Case team

The Cold Case team

ADVANCES in forensic science could eventually mean many unsolved crimes that happened in Comet country might one day be solved. A cold case unit has been set up within Hertfordshire Constabulary and will use the latest forensic technology in an attempt to

ADVANCES in forensic science could eventually mean many unsolved crimes that happened in Comet country might one day be solved.

A cold case unit has been set up within Hertfordshire Constabulary and will use the latest forensic technology in an attempt to find criminals who committed crimes many years ago and have been at loose believing they are now untouchable.

The unit has already had one success with the arrest of a man in Devon who was wanted for a sex assault on a woman in St Albans in 1996 following a breakthrough in DNA monitoring.

"Hopefully we will be knocking on the doors of a lot of people who believe they have committed the perfect crime and escaped justice," said a police spokesman.

The unit is led by recently retired detective inspector Mick Flavin, who joined the force as a cadet in1973.

Crimes currently under the unit's microscope are 16 undetected murders, 10 attempted murders and 80 unsolved stranger rapes.

In the future the unit will sift through unsolved crimes that have happened in Comet country.

"I have enjoyed a challenging and rewarding career as an officer with the constabulary and I am now looking forward to developing my skills further in my new role heading the cold case review unit," said Mr Flavin.

The Hertfordshire unit is similar to others that have been launched across the country in the wake of a Home Office recommendation concerning crime investigation.

The unit is developing operational links with crime agencies such as the Forensic Science Service and the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure investigation opportunities can be quickly concluded with the possibility of a conviction.

"One of the greatest concerns is that whatever we do we must not re-victimise victims," added Mr Flavin.

"We will be working closely with Victim Support and every case we prepare will be assessed before we go to the victim.

"It's crucial that we don't either create false hope or bring undue hardship or turmoil on people who have already been through so much.

"In many instances victims will have moved on with their lives, and particularly around the offence of rape may not have told loved ones or new partners what has happened to them.

"We therefore need to manage our first contact very carefully."

The unit will test and examine evidence and prepare a case for full investigation. The trigger could be a breakthrough or from the arrest of a suspect who has previously evaded capture.

If there is enough evidence to take the case forward it will be taken over as a major crime task force inquiry led by a senior investigating officer.

Mr Flavin, who will take on the role of the deputy senior investigating officer, added: "Over the next few months every cold case will be assessed and scored on a specially created matrix and the crimes with the highest scoring in terms of investigating opportunities will be looked at in more depth.

"We are hoping to make significant gains around forensics and rape offences, which we believe sends out a message to offenders that their past could catch up with them in the not too distant future.

"With a priority around victim care we aim to show that the constabulary will leave no stone unturned in the fight against serious crime and that we are totally committed to bringing offenders to justice.

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