Police uses VR to train detectives in fight agains staff shortage

The strain on the Dutch job market is well known, and police departments are also struggling to fill their roster.  Due to years of budget cuts and the departure of experienced colleagues, new personnel must get to work faster, with less guidance and time to practice.

In the county criminal investigation department, understaffing is as high as 10 percent which creates a high workload, less time to learn and ultimately a lower chance of catching criminals. A rapid and adaptive learning environment in the workplace is therefore needed, and virtual reality (VR) is an excellent tool for this.

Virtual training

According to the Amsterdam police, virtual reality can make an important contribution to training personnel faster, better and more fun.  For example, police colleagues already use virtual reality for shooting training, CPR and crime scene investigation.  This new VR training places detectives at a crime scene (PD) where they realistically go through a tactical investigative process.

“Because the operation is so busy, learning doesn’t work alongside it. put in alongside it. So you want to integrate learning on the job.”

– Jonne Janssen, portfolio holder Investigation, Amsterdam Unit

Crime scene in virtual reality

In this scenario, the crime scene is a residence in which a deceased person has been found. The detective’s task is to collect, analyze and categorize clues to determine a possible motive. During the investigation, the detective receives instruction and assistance from a senior detective, Inge.  Besides giving instructions and tips, she also helps the participant evaluate and reflect on the results.

Learn anywhere, at any time

The detectives can practice endlessly independently with the application without assistance from more experienced employees, but the project team advises the shop floor to do the training especially with guidance. Learning together always yields a higher return in the end.

Within the Amsterdam Unit, the VR training is delivered as a VR kit containing glasses, accompanying materials such as instructions, a manual and a reflection card. Working with VR is new for many colleagues, so an extensive tutorial has been developed before the training can be gone through at your own pace.


“With this VR training, the learning process of inexperienced detectives can be accelerated and leveled up.

Respondent Evaluation Report

Virtual Reality Crime Scene Training.

Fun and effective

The application especially helps novice detectives become proficient by developing a “tactical” eye to recognize, authenticate and categorize leads. The VR training connects to detective practice and integrates learning directly into the job. Participants take more rest thanks to the training, pay better attention to details and have more self-confidence.

Retention of knowledge senior staff

The application provides digitization of knowledge available within the organization. This preserves the knowledge of senior staff and allows new staff to draw on the experience gained over the years.  This ensures a transfer of knowledge that is valuable and practical and remains at the same level throughout the years.


Positive evaluation among staff

The evaluation study, conducted by TwynstraGudde, showed that participants in the pilot were predominantly positive. They indicated that they experienced the training as an addition to existing training opportunities.  For the more experienced investigators it was mainly a refresher. Colleagues see the training as accessible and as contributing to the development of knowledge and skills. They also expect the training to help reduce stress and increase mental resilience.


Within the organisation, VR training has been received with great enthusiasm. The training can be found in more and more criminal investigation departments across the country. The enthusiasm and positive reactions are so encouraging that the police are looking into sharing this application with (chain) partners.


The project is a collaboration between:

  • Districtsrecherche van de Nationale Politie
  • Onderzoeksagenda Politie (SOAP)
  • TwynstraGudde
  • VR Owl


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