Leeds School of Social Sciences

Criminology Lecturer Kirsty Bennett appears on David Wilson's Crime Files: Cold Cases

Earlier this year, Criminology Lecturer Kirsty Bennett was interviewed by David Wilson and Emilia Fox for the BBC Scotland programme David Wilson's Crime Files: Cold Cases. She was asked about some unsolved murders in West Yorkshire. Today (November 1st) the first of those programmes is being broadcast.

Kirsty, who leads Leeds Beckett's Cold Case Unit, which brings together Criminology and Computer Forensic Students to review long-term missing person cases and unsolved murders, has written about being involved in the TV programmes.

David Wilson Crime Files: Cold Cases filming with Kirsty Bennett

True crime is a popular media genre, across multiple platforms, and this is particularly evident for unsolved mysteries. There is a plethora of television shows, media reports, podcasts, and blogs outlining unsolved murders, or long-term disappearances. These accounts are often specific to the case being discussed and offer a general overview of what a cold case might consist of. Unfortunately, some of the general media accounts related to cold cases are sometimes uninformative and unhelpful for public understanding. As a result, I am keen to support producers, television hosts and, in turn, the public to fully understand the complexities of this topic area.

One of the public’s biggest areas of interest are people who go missing without a trace. In this episode, I talk to David Wilson about how the police can progress these cases. The goal for suspected no-body cases is to firstly locate the missing person, and then subsequently find out who was responsible for their death. This is a complex task. This is not to say that it is impossible but a range of scenarios face detectives to try and find answers to these cases. While forensic evidence may be lacking for these cases, it is possible to use other investigative strategies to the police’s benefit. One of these is the use of the media.

I met with David and the show’s producers on a later episode to discuss how important public appeals are for finding witnesses or members of the public with information about a cold case murder or someone’s disappearance. Sometimes people need some encouragement to move forward, and to know their information will be taken seriously by the police. It can sometimes make people feel comfortable about disclosing what they know, especially if this is information that they have known and sat on for a long time. The police are receptive to this information, and it should be encouraged within cold cases.

It is important for family and friends of the missing and unsolved murder victims across the UK to receive media interest in the case. However, it is important that victims, police processes, and case resolutions are appropriately understood too.

You can also watch the programmes at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0d3tm5d  

Find out more information about the Cold Case Unit

Emilia Fox, Kirsty Bennett and David Wilson

Kirsty Bennett

Lecturer / School Of Humanities And Social Sciences

Kirsty Bennett is a lecturer in Criminology, with a specialism in policing. Kirsty's area of expertise is cold case homicide reviews, missing persons, no-body murders, and major crime reviews.

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