Madeleine v HOLMES 2

Holmes 2 appears to be the main piece of software used by Operation Grange, in the investigation of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

It is a product of Unisys, a company that manufactures mainframe computers, and various software products. covers the claimed features of the software in question, and explains a bit about its history. is a somewhat dry explanation of its development and deployment. The key part is it was rolled out to all police forces in the UK between 2000 and 2004.

Holmes is based on Sherlock Holmes, but actually stands for Home Office Large Major Enquiry System.

The main emphasis is on the management aspect of a large major enquiry. This includes management of documents, workflow, records, tasks, crime exhibits, disclosure (what the enquiry has to disclosed to whom, when, and in what manner), plus court preparation (getting everything ready if the time comes to go to court).

So, all in all it records and deals with the bureaucratic side of managing and organising a large team on a major enquiry. All of the donkey work.

Now let me turn to the ‘intelligent’ parts of Holmes.

It has search functions that work across multiple sources, and can search in multiple ways. In plain and simple English, it has search functions that are pretty much like you have on your PC.

Then, it has Analysts Notebook, which provides charts, as per the diagram produced by PJ Inspector Paulo Dias in his analysis of the 74,104 mobile calls/texts, in and out of Luz, on 2 to 4 May 2007.

Finally, Holmes 2 has a Dynamic Reasoning Engine (DRE) to aid in the production of sequence event charts and link charts.

The development of Holmes 2 was started in 1994, and the finished version was first rolled out in 2000. This makes it fairly antique as a piece of software. The ‘features’ link above can be used to view what the system looks like, and what its results look like. In my opinion, it looks antiquated. Please visit the link and make up your own mind.

I have no doubt that the bureaucratic management side is superior to that deployed by the PJ. It probably requires more manpower to document the bureaucratic details required by a UK police investigation, but then the UK is not Portugal.

DRE aside, the intelligence features of Holmes do not appear significantly better than those used by the PJ in 2007. Certainly, the automated search function is better, given that the PJ Files appear to have been paper based. Here there is a balance between the resources needed to get everything into Holmes in a searchable format (vast) v the gains made by having it searchable by automated means.

The effort required by the PJ for data entry in the first few weeks would have meant an inability to actually investigate anything. It does explain why Operation Grange has taken so long, why the cost has been so vast, and why so many people were required to make it happen.

It would appear that Operation Grange had to do data entry for the PJ investigation, data entry for the work done by the McCanns PIs, and then data entry for all new work undertaken by Operation Grange itself. With a major Crimewatch response thrown into the mix. If this is correct, the task was truly Herculean.

So what, if anything, has come out of the Dynamic Reasoning Engine. While the Unisys software seems to date from the 90s, it is impossible to tell if either the Unisys side (Holmes) or DRE has been updated and rolled out since then.

DRE falls into the class of artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence in the 90s was not very intelligent at all. Your family pet cat or dog has more intelligence. Artificial intelligence programs that sound impressive, like a chess program beating the best chess grand master, were based on sheer speed of computer calculation, not intelligence.

Perhaps both the Holmes side and DRE have been updated since 2000. I do not claim to know the answer.

However, it is now possible to factor in Holmes and DRE to the mix known of the activities of OG.

Is Holmes/DRE in anyway connected to the dig(s) in Luz in June 14? I cannot for the life of me connect artificial intelligence to 41 ‘anomalies’ in the terrain around Luz. I can come up with an explanation of the dig(s). But it does not involve Holmes or DRE. The ‘intelligence’ is human, not artificial.

Is Holmes/DRE in anyway connected to the 4 arguidos of July 14? I could toss a coin on this one. Perhaps vast quantities of data was fed into Holmes/DRE and a link was made. Perhaps the links are much simpler. Personally, I would opt for the simpler explanation.

Is Holmes/DRE in anyway connected to the witness interviews of Dec 14? The answer here is that Holmes/DRE definitely could be connected to these interviews. On the other hand, there was nothing intelligent about the cast list selected for these interviews. Dozens of people with no access to Holmes/DRE could have lined up this cast list. Operation Grange is in deep trouble is this list originated within Holmes/DRE.

DRE is a piece of software built by humans, and it is no better than those who designed and built it. Holmes may be using a modern version, or it may be using an ‘antique’, who knows. The other issue is GIGO, garbage in, garbage out. An intelligence system being fed with garbage is likely to produce garbage, whether such system is artificial or human.

My thoughts on this issue were prompted by a poster on the Miscarriage of Justice Forum. I choose to register my thanks to this poster for making me think a bit deeper about this topic. I am truly grateful.


3 thoughts on “Madeleine v HOLMES 2

  1. There is a somewhat naive approach in science, the empirism. It says that the analysis of data is enough to explain anything. It is wrong, you also need a theory. Without a theory the data are blind. I read the PJ files many times, but always with a theory on my mind: first “The McCann did it”, then “The sexual predator”, finally “The burglary that went wrong”. I think the software cannot search following a theory.

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