Campus Tilburg University hoogleraren

PhD Defense C.H.J. Willemsen

Date: Time: 10:00 Location: Aula

Identifying suspects and undocumented migrants by law enforcement agencies (Identiteitsvaststelling van verdachten en illegale vreemdelingen door opsporingsdiensten)

  • Location: Cobbenhagen building, Aula (access via Koopmans building)
  • Supervisor: Prof. E.J. Koops
  • Co-supervisor: Dr. B.H.M. Custers


Clemens Willemsen researched the ability to adequately guarantee the identification of suspects and undocumented migrants by law enforcement agencies. The purpose of establishing an identity is for both criminal law and migration law to determine whether someone is or demonstrates who he says he is or, in other words, to retrieve the identity established by the government and then use it.

The research methods used are mostly desk research based on literature, including interviews with experts in the field of biometrics, establishing identity, record matching, law and informatics.

The most important result of the research is a framework that displays, both graphically and in words, the indicators for a law enforcement agency to reach a certain level of quality, maturity or expertise.

The identification of the National Police and the Royal Military Police scores in general more than satisfactory for suspects and undocumented migrants, but insufficiently for suspects if provisional detention is not permitted and (according to the law enforcement agency) there is no 'doubt' about the identity. Practical recommendations are intended for the management of law enforcement agencies, legal and regulatory professionals and managers of biographical and biometric data. The recommendations concern briefly:

  • Ensure that the knowledge of the legal powers of the police is and stays up to date. Ensure uniform procedures for all police units.
  • Provide (if possible automatically generated) management information for the operational manager to manage the law enforcement officers.
  • Recognize the risks of human error and take countermeasures.
  • Do not only look at the one-year and four-year criterion for including a biometric characteristic, but also consider for which type of offense it is really necessary to determine the physical identity.
  • The quality of biometric data such as fingerprints must be monitored so that a complete and integral image can be reasoned.
  • Provide a fallback option, not only for the biometrics recording process, but also for the other parts of the identification process.