Benefits of scenario reconstruction in cold case investigations

Publication Date01 Apr 2020
AuthorChantal Epskamp-Dudink,Jan Martin Winter
SubjectHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Criminal psychology,Sociology,Sociology of crime & law,Deviant behaviour,Public policy & environmental management,Policing,Criminal justice
Benets of scenario reconstruction in cold
case investigations
Chantal Epskamp-Dudink and Jan Martin Winter
Purpose The purposeof this paper is to propose a methodological approachto increase the clearance
rate of cold casesin The Netherlandsand to contribute to the development of intelligence-drivencriminal
investigationsin general police practice and withincold case investigations in particular.
Design/methodology/approach This proposal is based on practical investigative experience and
Findings Reconstructing scenarios helps convert cold case information into intelligence, which is
beneficial to law enforcement agencies in terms of time, resources and prioritising cold cases.
Intelligence contributesto the formulation of more effective queries and to a more efficientadaptation of
new and existinginvestigation methods, leadingto a higher cold case clearance rate. Moreover,scenario
reconstruction createsa link between intelligence and investigation, i.e. betweenscience and practice,
which addsto the further development of intelligence-driveninvestigations.
Practical implications When carrying out scenario reconstructions, practical implications are
expected, as intelligence products are currently not or barely used in practice and science is not yet
embeddedin the investigational practice.
Originality/value To move from scenario reconstruction to intelligence-driven criminal investigation,
the gap between science and the investigational practice needs to be bridgedby persons familiar with
both. Thisstudy hopes to provide the necessary and relevant impetusto this dialogue.
Keywords Criminology, Criminal investigation, Cold cases, Intelligence-driven investigation, Scenario
reconstruction, Tunnel vision, Investigational practice, Applied science, Tunnel vision
Paper type Case study
Problem definition as seen from the investigational practice
The authors have extensive experience in criminal investigations from their respective
perspectives in complex cases and operations. Despite several operational improvements
over the past decade, (complex) investigations remain susceptible to several well-known
issues, including tunnel vision. We also register a low clearance rate, particularly with
regard to cold cases and little to no connectionbetween science and practice.
In this paper, the authors propose a multi-faceted approach to tackle the abovementioned
issues. The scenario reconstruction method (SRM) is an intelligence-driven investigative tool, that
is, applicable to all investigations, whether they concern hot cases or coldcases. The focus here
is on the latter in particular. The following question is central: How can scenario reconstruction
contribute to intelligence-driven investigations, espec ially in connection with cold case
investigations or investigations that run a greater risk of becoming coldcase investigations?
Introduction: Cold case challenges in The Netherlands
The low clearance rate of Dutch cold cases
In The Netherlands, large-scale inquiries are usually set up to deal with complex, serious
crimes that have a substantial impact on society as follows: homicides such as murder or
Chantal Epskamp-Dudink
is based at the Department
of Analysis and Research,
Dutch National Police,
Alkmaar, The Netherlands.
Jan Martin Winter is based
at the Specialist Operations
Division (DSO), Dutch
National Police,
Driebergen, The
Netherlands and the
Department of Clinical and
Life Span Psychology,
University of Brussels,
Brussel, Belgium.
Received 13 September 2019
Revised 22 January 2020
Accepted 21 February 2020
DOI 10.1108/JCP-09-2019-0035 VOL. 10 NO. 2 2020, pp. 65-78, ©Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 2009-3829 jJOURNAL OF CRIMINAL PSYCHOLOGY jPAGE 65

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