Skip to content

Major Case Management

What is Major Case Management?

Major Case Management (MCM) is an innovative approach to solving major case crimes and dealing with complex incidents. A major case is crime of such severity that it creates an intense public demand for identification, apprehension, and prosecution of the offender and can include homicides, sexual assaults, human trafficking, and abductions. Major cases also include those crimes which necessitate a substantial commitment of resources for a prolonged period or which require the application of complex investigative techniques.

MCM combines specialized police training and investigation techniques with major case management computer software systems. The role of the software is to help manage the vast amounts of information collected during the investigation, conduct multi-jurisdictional and multi-agency investigations, and provide a structure to the management of the investigation by supporting dedicated roles and business processes.

Software can be especially useful in helping investigators identify common links across different crimes/locations, especially where those crimes might have been committed by the same person.

Adoption of Major Case Management

While the origins of MCM can be traced back to the 1980’s, its adoption by law enforcement agencies following recommendations made by public enquiries such as the Campbell Report and the Missing Woman Commission of Inquiry that have brought it into prominence.

Increasingly, it is also being used in non-criminal domains such as regulatory enforcement and incident response (disease outbreaks) as an effective approach to plan and manage investigations.

Campbell Report

In 1995, after conviction of the serial predator Paul Bernardo for a series of rapes and murders, the Ontario government appointed former Justice Archie Campbell to review the role of the police and other provincial agencies during the investigation.

Having studied the court and police documents for four months, Campbell found that a lack of coordination, cooperation and communication between police and other parts of the justice system contributed to a dangerous serial predator “falling through the cracks”. Among the Justice’s findings was a key recommendation that a major case management system was needed to:

  • Record, organize, manage, analyze and follow up all investigative data
  • Ensure all relevant information sources are applied to the investigation
  • Recognize at an early stage any linked or associated incidents
  • “Trigger” alerts to users of commonalities between incidents
  • Embody an investigative methodology incorporating standardized procedures

As a result of the Campbell report, MCM was adopted as a methodology for conducting major investigations in the Provence of Ontario. Ontario’s PowerCase software maximizes investigative efficiency, minimizes the chance of important evidence being missed and has an external person or group evaluate how the investigation is progressing.

MCM Components

Ontario’s MCM methodology is based on the following management team structure, commonly referred to as The Command Triangle.

Within the triangle, three executive functions are responsible for conducting the investigation. In a non-complex investigation, a single officer may perform these functions. As the complexity of the investigation increases, one or more law enforcement officials will perform these functions.

Major Case Manager - Xanalys
  1. Senior Investigating Officer: They are responsible for the broad strategic direction of the investigation.
  2. Primary Investigator: They run the investigation at the tactical level, providing day-to-day coordination, guidance and control for everyone else involved in the fact-finding process.
  3. File Coordinator: Coordinates the vast amounts of documentation gathered and generated during a major investigation.

Within the uncertain investigative environment, case managers must ensure that their responsibilities are carried out efficiently and effectively. For instance, they must ensure that all necessary investigative information is collected; the roles and responsibilities of the investigative team are clearly defined; the resources required for completing tasks are available; ethical investigative standards are upheld; and, that the investigative team can quickly adapt to changing situations.


Law Enforcement agencies may sometimes collaborate with other agencies to conduct investigations. That requires coordination and cooperation. MCM is helping in these situations. It is targeted at working collaboratively with outside agencies to progress the investigation. One important aspect of the MCM model is that linked investigations involving one or more jurisdictions or agencies must be under a unified command and control. That avoids duplication of effort and helps to coordinate information gathered in one case that might be vital to another linked investigation.

Major Case Management Software

At the technology core of MCM is the advanced, purpose-built software which processes the vast amounts of information arising in a major case. It is invaluable in organizing, retrieving and analyzing large volumes of investigative data. MCM software assists the Senior Investigating Officer to manage a major investigation including resource deployment, and assists police services in ensuring that major case investigations are focused, methodically controlled and audited throughout the investigative life cycle. Arguably, the best-known MCM software system is Xanalys “PowerCase” which is used by all police services in the Province of Ontario, along with other jurisdictions in Canada and other countries.

Xanalys Enquiry Form