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The investigative mindset

This article looks at the five components of the investigative mindset.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

To investigate a suspected incidence of fraud, you’ll need to think like an investigator by adopting an investigative mindset.

The investigative mindset can be broken down into five principles:

  • Understanding the source of the material​
  • Planning and preparation​
  • Examination​
  • Recording and collation
  • Evaluation

Now let’s look at the principles of the investigative mindset in turn:

Understanding the source of the material

Understanding the source of the material is essential in order to conduct an effective examination of it.​ It will help explain its characteristics and relevance to others.

There are some questions about the source material you will need to ask. For example:

The witness CCTV
What is their background​? Which camera​?
How vulnerable are they? What is the type of camera​?
What is their relationship to the criminal? Are there any blind spots?

Planning and preparation

You will need to do the following:

  • Set clear objectives for retrieving the material from the source​
  • Identify the most appropriate way to carry out the examination​
  • Identify specialist equipment or expertise​
  • Identify the most appropriate location for examination

(Betts 2017)

With the sources, you will need to consider the following:

The witness CCTV
Objective? ​Objective?
Expertise?​ Equipment required?​
Method of the interview?​ Method of examination?
Location of the interview?​ Location of examination?
Method of recording? ​Method of recording?


The investigator will need to identify​

  • What is known​
  • What is not known​
  • Consistencies ​
  • Conflicts

(Betts 2017)

Recording and collection

The investigator must consider:

  • The records that need to be made​
  • How to store the material​
  • The security of the material​
  • Access arrangements to the material

(Betts 2017)


The investigator will need to:

  • Identify any fast track actions​
  • Identify further lines of investigation​
  • Apply the mindset will ensure the material is gathered​
  • Test reliability at the earliest opportunity​
  • Take immediate action​
  • Make relevant records​
  • Ensure materials are properly stored

(Betts 2017)


Betts, M.,J. (2017) Investigation of Fraud and Economic Crime Oxford, Oxford University Press

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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