Free Press Journal

Helping hand: Detective AI to the rescue for British cops

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London: Move over, Sherlock Holmes Scientists have developed a new artificial intelligence system that can help solve crimes by taking over the laborious task of analysing clues and finding links that human investigators might have missed.

The system, called VALCRI (Visual Analytics for Sense-Making in Criminal Intelligence), will be able to perform the tedious part a crime analyst’s job in seconds, freeing them to focus on finer points of a case.

“Everyone thinks policing is about connecting the dots, but that is the easy bit,” said William Wong, who leads the project at Middlesex University London. “The hard part is working out which dots need to be connected,” Wong said. VALCRI scans millions of police records, interviews, pictures, videos and more, to identify connections.


“An analyst can then say whether this is relevant or not and VALCRI will adjust the results,” said Neesha Kodagoda, also from Middlesex. The system uses machine learning to improve its searches on the basis of such interactions with analysts, the ‘New Scientist’ reported.

When an unsolved crime lands on an analyst’s desk, one of the first things they have to do is search police databases for incidents that could be related based on their location, time or modus operandi, and collect details of all of the people involved.

A lot of the information recorded in police reports is in side notes and descriptions, but the algorithms powering VALCRI can understand what is written – at a basic level. Police in the UK are currently testing VALCRI with three years’ worth of real, anonymised data, totalling around 6.5 million records.