Citizens more and more collaborate with the police in order to prevent and fight crime (Steden et al, 2011). Examples are Burgernet and Whatsapp groups that aim to involve citizens in the early detection of missing persons, signs of crime or potential suspects. Not only does the involvement of citizens dramatically increase investigative capacity, but citizens may also have relevant knowledge that is useful for a particular case. For those reasons the police organization is also experimenting with the involvement of citizens in crime investigation. To that extent an app is developed that provides citizens with relevant knowledge of criminal cases, as well as do’s and don’ts in doing investigative research. However, as with all new innovative technology a number of questions need to be answered in order to optimally tune the technology to citizen knowledge and needs and to support the collaboration between citizens and police. Research question
Central research question is how citizens do investigative research in solving criminal cases. Specific questions could be:
1. How do citizens evaluate the app that is developed? Do they want to use it? Is there an effect of demographic variables?
2. What strategies do citizens use in their investigation? How do they search for information?
3. Is there a difference if citizens work alone or in groups? Is their strategy affected by prior knowledge? (Kerstholt et al, 2007)
4. Do citizens take account of the guidelines that are provided? Are they aware of risks regarding privacy or trace evidence?
Depends on specific research question. Interviews, surveys and experimental research are all possible research methods.
Steden, R. van, Caem, B. van & Boutellier, H. (2011). The ‘hidden strength’ of active citizenship: The involvement of local residents in public safety projects. Criminology and Criminal Justice, 11, 433-450.
Kerstholt, J.H. & Eikelboom, A.R. (2007). Effects of prior interpretation on situation assessment in crime analysis. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 20, 455-465.
Kerstholt, J., Vries, A., Mente, R. & Huis in ‘t Veld, M. (2015). Politie en burgers: Van informatie delen naar volwaardige samenwerking. Tijdschrift voor Veiligheid, 3-4, 14, 78-88.
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