Forensic research performed in criminal cases dealing with transnational waste trafficking is multidisciplinary and generates large amounts of data from different types of wastes, contaminants, production processes and recovery operations.
Aim of tool
The tool should improve access to historic data to be used in future casework and can assist to obtain intelligence information. It is expected that the data generated by forensic research contains information about vulnerability of specific waste streams for criminal activities, how it occurs, and how this can be detected.
Assessment of Big Data
The combination of an Environmental Forensics Database and the opportunity to use the knowledge and expertise on forensic data analysis by the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) – Forensic Big Data Analysis (FBDA) research group, created the opportunity for the development of a Proof of Concept tool for environmental forensic data analysis.
The approach can be used by research and forensic institutes, policy makers and law enforcement as part of a horizon scanning of development and trends in relation to waste crime and, based on those outcomes, design effective targeting and enforcement strategies.
This tool provides the following options:
- An overview of the number of cases per year, as well as chemicals and incidents.
- The combination of top 5 chemicals and/or incidents.
- Free combinations of chemicals or incidents.
- The possibility to search for expert reports based on free text.
The prototype already highly improves access to historic data to be used in future casework and assists to obtain intelligence information. Examples of environmental forensic data analysis on different aspects of illegal waste trafficking demonstrate that a focus on environmental forensics broadens knowledge on waste crime.
Conclusions and recommendations
Restrictions of the Proof of Concept tool are mainly related to the limitations of the Environmental Forensics Database. An important limitation is for example that the database only contains Dutch criminal cases in which technical research was performed by the Netherlands Forensics Institute (NFI).
In general, a limited or biased database is an important pitfall in any data analysis. Smart linkage to other information sources might overcome this and improve the tool in the future.