Artificial intelligence to help Dutch police solve cold cases: report

Forensic investigators at the scene of a murder
Forensic investigators at the scene of a murderPhoto: Politie

The Dutch police are using new artificial intelligence software to breathe new life into cold cases. The new software is specifically used to help hunt down still at large murderers and sex offenders, the Telegraaf reports.

The artificial intelligence will look at cold cases and identify which of them contain promising clues and trace evidence, so that they can be picked up again and reassessed with new forensic techniques. "At the current rate, we would be working for decades to map out the traces in all cold cases", Roel Wolfert of the Oost-Nederland police's Q-team said to the newspaper. The Q-team therefore teamed up with an external ICT partner to find a way to speed things up. "We built a system that has been taught to read digitized files and to automatically map out the forensic traces."

The Dutch police force is the first one in the world to start using this technology. "We are proud of this innovative way of detecting", Wolfert said to the newspaper. "We are on the verge of a new technological development."

Cold case teams across the Netherlands are delighted by this new technology. "This saves us an unspeakable amount of work", forensic detective Carina van Leeuwen said to the Telegraaf. "There are at least fifteen hundred cold case investigations in the Netherlands. Examining all of them manually is not feasible. Promising files remain on the shelf and that is unacceptable. For us, but certainly also for the surviving relatives."

According to Van Leeuwen, many old files contain information about forensic trace evidence that can lead directly to a perpetrator with today's technology. The artificial intelligence software will help them find these promising cases quickly. "The search system is no substitute for detectives", she said. "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. In this way, an analysis only takes one day instead of weeks."