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AI Case Study

Netherlands police prioritises which cold cases merit further investigation using DNA new testing techniques through AI analysis

The Netherlands police are digitizing their cold case forensic data to enable them to use machine learning to prioritise which ones may be worth re-investigating - initially with a focus on new DNA techniques.


Public And Social Sector


Project Overview

According to The Next Web: '"We’re teaching the machine to do forensic screening,” said Jeroen Hammer, one of the architects of the system. 'The goal is that the AI can read cold cases we’re currently digitizing, and decide which ones contain promising evidence that could lead to solving the case.'

The AI will rank cases by “solvability” and highlight possible DNA evidence in cases. The team plans to expand the automated analysis to other forms of forensic evidence, and potentially even non-forensic data like social sciences and witness statements.

Another expectation is that a self-learning system like this one will learn to spot other patterns. “We have about one thousand unsolved murders, but I don’t think there are one thousand murderers out there. I’m confident there are connections we haven’t been able to see with our bare eyes.”

'If you really think about it, detective work is just an algorithm; you follow certain steps that will lead to an outcome – balancing between randomness, biases, and real connections,' a detective commented. 'But however good the AI becomes, human detectives will always be in the lead.'"

Project master-minded by Q, a division of the Dutch police that experiments with new approaches to old problems.

Current focus is on where DNA evidence can be applied.

Reported Results

“We think we could have all the cold cases digitized in a year, and have a full list of prioritized cases in two years,”




General Operations


"The national police force is working to digitize the more than 1,500 reports and 30 million pages of material in its cold case archive, only 15 percent of which is currently stored electronically. (The Dutch police defines a cold case as any case since 1988 that carries a jail sentence for over 12 years and has gone unsolved for at least three years.) Once the transfer is complete, a machine learning algorithm will begin combing through the records and deciding which cases have the most promising evidence, reducing case processing time from weeks to a single day."



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