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The police and the University of Amsterdam (UvA) will establish a structural cooperation in order to be able to analyse huge amounts of data seized in criminal investigations. Three doctoral candidates from the UvA will conduct their doctoral research with the police, making it possible to apply knowledge from their research directly to the operation.

Marcel Worring and Theo van der Plas. Photo: Nick Hogeveen

Two doctoral candidates will be employed by the National Police and one will be working for the Amsterdam Police. One aspect of the research involves analysing extremely large and diverse amounts of data involved in criminal investigations, such as photos, written content and videos.

Theo van der Plas, director of the digitisation and cybercrime programme for the police: ‘Programmes must be developed to facilitate rapid analyses. These programmes can help detectives understand the significance of the information/data. It is very important to be able to establish relationships, detect irregular patterns and summarise the huge stack of information so a detective can quickly see the most significant information. Ultimately, many police investigations will benefit'.

New opportunities for detectives

The project entails a partnership between the police and the Informatics Institute for a minimum period of four years. Marcel Worring, director of the Informatics Institute: ‘Our researchers are involved in fields such as artificial intelligence and the analysis of words and images. This partnership allows us to apply our technologies to the complex data and issues facing the police. The interaction between science and actual practice will provide the police with new possibilities for detectives whilst offering us new scientific challenges'.

Prof Marcel Worring, professor Data Science for Business Analytics
Marcel Worring. Photo: Dirk Gillissen

The institute has been working with the police for many years, for example in the fight against child abuse and searching online for information that is relevant to the tracing process. Worring: ‘They were always individual projects, so it´s fantastic to be able to continue our partnership in a structural way now. And hopefully this is just the beginning. In Amsterdam Data Science, a partnership between the CWI, HvA, VU and UvA, there are many other topics that could be of potential interest to the police´. 

According to Van der Plas, structural cooperation is necessary in order to respond to the latest developments. ‘Furthermore, we can accelerate the development of knowledge within the police force with respect to the digitisation of society. It´s also a great way to discover new talents´. 

Recruitment of the doctoral candidates will start soon.