For some years now, students have been introduced to the analysis of cold cases and long-term missing person cases at police academies and various universities worldwide. Now, the Police Expert Network on Missing Persons (PEN-MP), AMBER Alert Europe and Locate International have succeeded for the first time in connecting educational organisations working on these cases with one another across national borders.
Involved in this unique project are the Police Academy of Lower Saxony from Germany, where cold case analyses have been taking place since 2014, as well as the universities of South Wales, Leeds Beckett, Staffordshire, Winchester and Central Lancashire (GB) and Murdoch and Newcastle (AUS).
The primary objective of this international collaboration is to enable young police officers and students to establish a close link between theory and practice in cold cases. It also enhances their investigative mindset by drawing on and learning from students from a variety of disciplines including criminology, policing, forensic science, psychology, forensic archaeology and anthropology.
After being given a theoretical introduction to the basics of cold case analysis, in particular in understanding the victim and the crime scene, four multidisciplinary teams from the participating academies and universities, consisting of forty-five students, are now analysing an attempted homicide of a child and a long-term missing person’s case.
The results obtained will be made available to the investigating authorities responsible for cold cases in Germany. The public prosecution offices, including the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Verden (Germany), which provided the cases, attach great importance to having well-trained young academics in the police and hope that this will lead to more institutions working together on cold cases internationally.
In addition, the outcomes of the cold case analysis project also serve as an incentive to set up similar fixed structures to be established from 2021.
Steve Shepherd Co-Director of Locate International said “This is a groundbreaking moment. It is bringing together Universities, Police, NGO’s and the team from Locate International working collaboratively on real-world cases. It shows that this innovative way of thinking and working together by using technology to overcome geographic boundaries can be of enormous benefit to investigations. We hope that this can now also be replicated in the UK by bringing together our University Teams, Local Police Services, the National Crime Agency and the National Police Chiefs Council to work in partnership to enhance UK investigations.
We have to say a massive thank you to the students. They have dedicated so much of their own time to build a new way of working”