Homicide investigation

Homicides and reportable deaths occurring within Western Australia are investigated and/or managed by the WA Police Major Crime Squad, Special Crime Squad and Coronial Investigation Unit.

A reportable death is a Western Australian death:

  • That appears unexpected, unnatural or violent or as a result, directly or indirectly, of injury;
  • That occurs during an anaesthetisation;
  • That occurs as a result of an anaesthetic and is not due to natural causes;
  • That occurs in prescribed circumstances;
  • Of a person who immediately before death was a person held in care;
  • That appears to have been caused or contributed to while the person was held in care;
  • That appears to have been caused or contributed to by any action of a member of the police force;
  • Of a person whose identity is unknown;
  • That occurs in Western Australia where the cause of death has not been certified under Section 44 of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1998; or
  • That occurred outside Western Australia where the cause of death is not certified by a person who, under the law in force in that place, is a legally qualified medical practitioner.

Major Crime Squad

The Major Crime Squad (MCS) conducts quality investigations into homicides and reportable sudden deaths under Section 3 (1) of the Coroners Act 1966 on behalf of the State Coroner.

The MCS investigates:

  • Homicides;
  • Homicide and suspicious death inquiries instigated interstate or internationally;
  • Deaths resulting from police/public confrontation;
  • Deaths in custody of sentenced and remand prisoners;
  • Sudden and unexplained deaths of children; and
  • Acts of terrorism resulting in death.

MCS personnel work closely with the Forensic and Intelligence Divisions of the WA Police, together with external agencies; including, but not limited to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, the Office of the State Coroner, the State Mortuary, the Pathology Centre of Western Australia, University of Western Australia, Curtin University, Department of Health, the Chemistry Centre of Western Australia, and the Secondary Victims of Homicide Group.

About the Special Crime Squad

The Special Crime Squad (SCS):

  • Reviews and investigates unsolved homicides and long-term missing persons declared as 'Cold Cases';
  • Conducts specialist investigations as directed by the Assistant Commissioner Specialist Crime Portfolio.

The SCS consists of experienced personnel with investigative, forensic and intelligence expertise. They work closely with the forensic science field including representatives from PathWest, University of Western Australia, Curtin University, Chemistry Centre of Western Australia and international bodies.

To ensure contemporary best practice methods are used, the SCS maintains a close working relationship with 'Cold Case' units/squads in other Australian and international jurisdictions.

Coronial Investigation Unit

The Coronial Investigation Unit (CIU) is responsible for:

  • Managing investigative responses to all reportable deaths within the Perth metropolitan area, excluding those investigated by the District Detective Offices or Major Crime Squad; and
  • Providing specialist support for investigations into reportable deaths within Regional Western Australia, excluding those investigated by Regional Detective Offices or Major Crime Squad.

The Coroners Act 1996 established the Office of the State Coroner, providing for the State coronial system to inquire into deaths in Western Australia.

The CIU work closely with other agencies; including, but not limited to the Office of the State Coroner, Pathology Centre of Western Australia, Department of Health, State Mortuary, Chemistry Centre of Western Australia, and the Government Contractor.