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International Cold Case Analysis Project (ICCAP)

The International Cold Case Analysis Project (ICCAP) brings together talented university students, mentored by forensic and investigation specialists, to help law enforcement advance cold cases. Cold cases are a global issue and ICCAP provides a cross border solution through international collaboration.

About the International Cold Case Analysis Project (ICCAP):

The ICCAP is a ground breaking project co-founded by Locate International, Amber Alert Europe, Police Expert Network Missing Persons (PEN-MP), Police Academy Lower Saxony and UK and Australian Universities. This involves teams from universities in the UK, Germany, North Macedonia, Australia, and trainee police officers from the Police Academy at Lower Saxony and the German Federal Criminal Police Office Wiesbaden, both in Germany and the French Gendarmerie. These teams come together over a four-month period to review a number of unsolved murders, unidentified remains or missing people cases, culminating in a presentation of their findings to the German Public Prosecutor and representative from police forces across Europe. The ICCAP has gained support from the Council of Europe and PEN-MP .  

In a course, up to 80 students usually analyse four cold cases with a file of more than 40,000 pages in four weeks. The results obtained are presented to the investigators in a presentation at the end of the course. This corresponds to more than 10 full-time investigators per year in terms of working time alone.

Lauren’s Experience

Glasgow Caledonian University criminology student Lauren Hughes had the opportunity to help analyse a cold case from 1969, involving a missing 15-year-old girl from Lower Saxony, Germany. She said:

“Each group went through hundreds of case files to look for inconsistencies, new hypotheses and leads.  My team were focusing specifically on what could have motivated each suspect in her disappearance. We were also looking at the risk management of the victim and how her vulnerabilities would be handled in a modern investigation. The aim was to look at the case through a 21st century lens and there were some exciting new ideas in the final presentation.” 

The findings were then presented to representatives from the German Prosecutors office, which has led to cases being re-investigated by police.

Lauren was relieved to see that their hard work paid off. She said: “It was really rewarding when the ideas started to come together.  

It was incredibly challenging. It seemed as though there had already been so much work done on the case and at the beginning you think ‘How could anything have been missed?’ – but there’s always more you can find with a fresh pair of eyes. It was really interesting to work with other students from across the world with different  perspectives on case analysis.”

A Note from our CEO

“The ICCAP is designed to challenge students beyond the technical aspects of an investigation. The situation is just like a serious crime investigation. Multi-disciplinary teams come together quickly, and you have to work with people you may never have met or even like to get the job done. This requires resilience, and you really begin to see the students leadership and team building skills emerge.”

Dave Grimstead, CEO & Founder

Ingrid’s Experience

Ingrid Hoff, studying BSc (Hons) Cyber Crime and Forensic Investigation at University of Winchester said: “It has been such an amazing experience to be able to take part in an international cooperation like this. As a student who wants to get a job within criminal investigation, there is no doubt that this has been a unique opportunity to gain more experience for further employment.”

“So far, being part of the Cold Case Unit has been wonderfully exciting. The opportunity to work with different universities across England, Germany, and Australia has been incredible and no doubt provides a good foundation career-wise,” said Oshina Ann Jose, also a student on the BSc (Hons) Cyber Crime and Forensic Investigation degree programme.

“Authentic learning experiences provide opportunities to replicate real-world tasks and challenge preconceived ideas. The ICCAP model encourages learners to practice higher-order cognitive skills that are needed to support agile investigative thinking. Authenticity in learning enhances student engagement and perceptions of credibility and satisfaction because outcomes are embedded within meaningful outputs which directly support graduate aspirations.”

Finding the missing and unknown: Novel educational approaches to warming up cold cases.’ Published in Journal of Science and Justice, 2022

Next Steps

Following recommendations presented at the second ICCAP, with regard to an unknown man found in the North Sea, our Locate Investigation teams continue to work directly with the cold case team from Wilhelmshaven, Lower Saxony. You can check on progress in that case here.

In the third ICCAP, teams reviewed a number of cases of neonaticide. One of these cases has been reopened and a report written on the analysis of neonaticide investigation. This is available on request here.

The fourth ICCAP took place between June to September 2022. The Saxony-Anhalt Police Academy from Germany and the French Gendarmerie are set to join the current participants of the ICCAP, expanding the project even further.

“It’s great to see that more and more police training institutions are getting involved in this great international collaboration”, says Karsten Bettels from the Police Academy of Lower Saxony, who helps run the course.

Some of the cases to be analysed will be accompanied by TV productions to promote this unique ICCAP project in Europe further

The ICCAP project was presented by Karsten Bettels, Dave Grimstead and Charlie Hedges to member states and interested stakeholders in a webinar organised by PEN-MP and Amber Alert Europe in 2021 and will be presented again in October 2022. Prior to the sixth ICCAP June 2023, ICCAP was presented at the 14th National Missing and Unidentified Persons Conference in Orlando. The aim is for ICCAP to become a permanent institution in the EU and beyond. Locate International will continue to work with partners to develop the ICCAP and inspire police and educational institutions to participate.

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