UNSOLVED murder cases in Buckinghamshire are to be reinvestigated by a specialist team of Thames Valley Police officers.

The force's new Dedicated Review Team will look into around 50 murders in the Thames Valley, some of which happened up to 50 years ago. They will also reinvestigate unsolved serious sexual assault cases from the 1980s up until the present day.

The team was established to deal with unsolved major crimes. Officers hope to give closure to victims and families.

It is hoped that potential fresh evidence could even lead to retrials after the old double jeopardy law was scrapped in Britain. This previously meant that suspects could not be tried twice for the same crime.

Detective Superintendent Barry Halliday said forensic science had come on significantly but that rapid advances made it difficult to rely upon it.

He said: "So while that is a key area of work, other areas of work have a need to be investigated at the same time.

"Some of the murders are in the Bucks area and some go back further than the original amalgamation of Thames Valley."

Det Supt Halliday said police who worked up to 50 years ago had been forensically aware and kept evidence found at crime scenes. He said the team wanted to obtain such articles so that modern science could be applied to reveal new findings.

He said: "We are in the process of deciding which cases will be re-examined first.

"I can assure all those affected that each one of these cases will be re-examined, and we will visit victims and families when their cases are being investigated."

He added: "This is not a new concept. Thames Valley has been reviewing cases for a significant number of years. What we are now doing is applying a consistent systematic approach.

"If suspects have died then there is very little we can do but even when that occurs there is still a need to make sure the lines of inquiry have been pursued.

"Just because somebody has left the country is irrelevant. There may be difficulties pursuing lines of inquiry abroad but the world is a much smaller place than it was ten years ago.

"If the team are not able to bring a closure there needs to be some reassurance. Surviving family victims will take some comfort that the case has been rigorously reviewed."

% If you have any information on such crimes, call the review team on 01865 842 689. Or call 08458 505 505 or anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Mystery cases

ONE of the murders the Dedicated Review Team could be reopening is that of Janet Brown.

Her body was discovered by a builder and his son at her home in Radnage in April 1995.

Nick Marshall and his son Ben were due to do some work at the Browns' 11-acre estate in Sprigs Holly Lane when they found her naked body in a bedroom just after 8am. She had been gagged and handcuffed and repeatedly struck about the head.

It is believed Mrs Brown, 51, had been in bed and was awoken by somebody breaking in and had gone to find out what the noise was when she was killed.

Her husband Dr Graham Brown was working in Switzerland at the time and their eldest two children Zara, then 22, and Ben, then 21, had both left home. Their youngest daughter Roxanne, then 19, was staying at a friend's house that evening. They made a plea for witnesses in 2005, but no one came forward.

Forensic scientists have re-examined evidence in the light of new technology, but to no avail. Police interviewed 2,700 people and the case was featured on BBC's Crimewatch and in national newspapers.

Carolyn Anne Jackson, 50, was found bound, beaten and strangled in her home in Wooburn Green in 1998. Her killer has never been brought to justice.

Detectives believed the antiques dealer was targeted in a robbery and was probably followed into her home by her killer as she unloaded her car.