Other police departments better take some notes from the Dutch police. As opposed to the perils of using new technology to determine future criminal offenses, it isn’t all that bad to use innovative methods to crack old ones.
Cold cases, as how the Dutch police defines it, are cases since 1988 with 12-year jail sentences left unsolved for roughly three years. These are the most recent focus of Q, a division of the Dutch police.
Q was specifically crafted to work with innovative methods to supplement traditional practices in the field. Initially serving as an internal bottom-up movement, Q is now approximately 800-people strong with members from varied departments.
Q uses an analyzer powered by artificial intelligence specifically designed to learn an algorithm which will allow it to go through thousands of reports, often on cases of murder and sexual offenses.
How exactly will the Q’s new AI help? The software will pinpoint cases that have enough evidence that the police can begin to reassess using up-to-date forensic procedures. This procedure will certainly make case processing much more convenient for the police force.
However, the Dutch police is still in the process of digitizing every report in their archive, over 1,500 cases in total, playing around 30 million pages. All of which will be fed to the AI for it to be analyzed. To date, they managed to transfer 15 percent of this said estimation.
The software is expected to rank cases according to “solvability,” or which ones have the most potential to be solved. Possible DNA evidences will also be emphasized.
Q plans to improve this new technology and expand its scope in order for them to cater to other data, including other types of forensic evidence as well as non-forensic information such as witness statements and social sciences.
In preparation of this new AI procedure, Q has successfully recruited inmates from penitentiaries who will serve as consultants to help solve these crimes.
AI is the new hope for Dutch forensics.
“Systems like this will allow us to do much more in future, such as seeing connections between cases. It may be we can apply it to live cases too,” Q’s specialist Roel Wolfert noted in a talk with Dutch news channel NOS.
Jeroen Hammer, one of the creators of the software, plans to create an API for future partners who want to be involved in these investigations.
This software pioneered by the Dutch police brings new hope for existing cold case teams in the Netherlands. They note that the AI will save them “an unspeakable amount of work.” Several unsolved cases contain trace evidence that, through modern procedures, can directly point investigators to the perpetrator. The role of the AI is primarily to help them identify which are these potentially solvable cases.
Speaking to De Telegraaf, forensic detective Carina van Leeuwen noted, “The search system is no substitute for detectives. A murder investigation always remains human work. But with this help we can avoid a lot of ineffective work and immediately start looking for offenders.” She adds that leaving promising files on the shelf is just unacceptable, not only for the police force, but more so for the surviving relatives of the victims.
Photo: Markus Spiske