Students make significant progress on GCU’s first Cold Case Unit

Wed, 10 Nov 2021 16:19:00 GMT
Criminology student Lauren Hughes had the opportunity to help analyse a cold case from 1969
Criminology student Lauren Hughes had the opportunity to help analyse a cold case from 1969

Students at GCU have been working in Scotland’s first university Cold Case Unit, which includes participation in a unique bi-annual international cold case analysis project.

Students in the GCU Cold Case Unit have worked in collaboration with universities in the UK, Germany and Australia and alongside the Police Academy at Lower Saxony and Locate International, the Police Expert Network on Missing Persons (PEN-MP) and AMBER Alert Europe to analyse two cold cases. Their work culminated in a presentation of their findings to the German police, and Public Prosecutor.

Criminology student Lauren Hughes had the opportunity to help analyse a cold case from 1969, involving a missing 15-year-old girl from Lower Saxony, Germany. She said: “Each group went through hundreds of case files to look for inconsistencies, new hypotheses and leads. 

 My team were focusing specifically on what could have motivated each suspect in her disappearance. We were also looking at the risk management of the victim and how her vulnerabilities would be handled in a modern investigation. The aim was to look at the case through a 21st century lens and there were some exciting new ideas in the final presentation.” 

The findings were then presented to representatives from the German Prosecutors office, which may lead to the cases being re-investigated by police.

Lauren was relieved to see that their hard work paid off. She said: “It was really rewarding when the ideas started to come together.  

It was incredibly challenging, especially as many of the files were roughly translated. It seemed as though there had already been so much work done on the case and at the beginning you think ‘How could anything have been missed?’ – but there’s always more you can find with a fresh pair of eyes. 
It was really interesting to work with other students from across the world with different  
perspectives on case analysis.” 

Reflecting on her academic journey, Lauren is very grateful to be a part of such an important University project. She said: “I have always hoped to go onto investigative work when I graduate but I didn’t think I would get the opportunity to work on a real case before then. 

It’s been a real honour to contribute to the work that might finally solve this cold case and I’ve learned so much that I’ll take with me into the future!” 

Learn more about Locate International on their website 


By Rachael McAlonan 
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