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Benefits of scenario reconstruction in cold case investigations

Chantal Epskamp-Dudink (Department of Analysis and Research, Dutch National Police, Alkmaar, The Netherlands)
Jan Martin Winter (Specialist Operations Division (DSO), Dutch National Police, Driebergen, The Netherlands and the Department of Clinical and Life Span Psychology, University of Brussels, Brussel, Belgium)

Journal of Criminal Psychology

ISSN: 2009-3829

Article publication date: 31 March 2020

Issue publication date: 5 May 2020




The purpose of this paper is to propose a methodological approach to increase the clearance rate of cold cases in The Netherlands and to contribute to the development of intelligence-driven criminal investigations in general police practice and within cold case investigations in particular.


This proposal is based on practical investigative experience and academic knowledge.


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 contributes to the formulation of more effective queries and to a more efficient adaptation of new and existing investigation methods, leading to a higher cold case clearance rate. Moreover, scenario reconstruction creates a link between intelligence and investigation, i.e. between science and practice, which adds to the further development of intelligence-driven investigations.

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 embedded in the investigational practice.


To move from scenario reconstruction to intelligence-driven criminal investigation, the gap between science and the investigational practice needs to be bridged by persons familiar with both. This study hopes to provide the necessary and relevant impetus to this dialogue.



Epskamp-Dudink, C. and Winter, J.M. (2020), "Benefits of scenario reconstruction in cold case investigations", Journal of Criminal Psychology, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 65-78.



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