Professor Daniel Birks


I am a computational social scientist primarily focusing on the role computational methods can play in supporting evidence-based policy and practice and improving societal well-being. I hold degrees in Artificial intelligence and Computer science, Cognitive science, and Criminology, and have over 20 years’ experience working closely with criminal justice and other public service practitioners and policy makers in the UK and Australia to deliver high impact research outcomes.

I joined the School of Law in February 2018 as the University Academic Fellow in Quantitative Policing and Crime Data Analytics, having previously held research and teaching roles at Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia; the Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security; and University College London. 

From 2002 to 2007, I worked at University College London’s Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science. During this time, I was involved in a range of applied research projects in collaboration with multiple UK police services, the Home Office and the Police Standards Unit, including developing and evaluating the first prospective crime mapping software trialled in a UK operational policing environment.

From 2008 to 2017, I worked at the Key Centre for Ethics, Law and Governance and the Griffith Criminology Institute, Brisbane, Australia. In these roles, I undertook a range of applied research projects, including collaborating with Queensland Government to generate first-of-their-kind public service data linkages, and constructing simulation  models of the criminal justice system which were used by State Government to conduct scenario planning. From 2014 to 2017, I played a key role in the conception and creation of the Griffith Social Analytics Lab – a $1 million secure data facility designed to house large stakeholder administrative datasets to enable high-impact social science research.

Returning to the UK in 2018, I joined the School of Law at the University of Leeds and became part of the N8 Policing Research Partnership (PRP). Between 2018 and 2023, I was awarded three successive Turing Fellowships by the Alan Turing Institute – the UK’s national centre for Data Science and AI. In these roles, I represented the Turing Institute and University of Leeds in series of research projects in collaboration with UK police that explored how complex systems approaches could be applied to better understand police supply and demand dynamics. 

In 2021, I became inaugural co-director of LIDA:Societies – an interdisciplinary research community based at the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics that seeks to combine existing beacons of excellence in applied social and data sciences at Leeds, becoming a world-leading knowledge centre in the application of, and innovation in, data analytics for social science.

I became deputy director of the ESRC Vulnerability and Policing Futures Research Centre in 2022. At the Centre I direct a program of research that will see 30 early career data scientists apply modern data analytic methods to public service administrative data. 


  • Deputy Director - ESRC Vulnerability and Policing Futures Research Centre
  • Co-director - LIDA:Societies

Research interests

Broadly speaking, two key themes underpin my research: (1) how administrative data routinely collected by criminal justice and other public sector agencies can be harnessed to inform proactive crime reduction; and (2) how computational simulations can support understanding of complex social systems and potential interventions that might be enacted within them.

To date, my research has been supported by over £18m of competitive research income and published in the leading criminological journals worldwide, including Criminology, The Journal of Quantitative Criminology, and The Journal of Experimental Criminology

Current Research Projects (Selected)

  • Healthy Urban Places: a systems approach to understanding how to harness the power of local places to improve population health and reduce inequalities: HUP-North. UKRI, Medical Research Council, Population Health Improvement Network of Clusters (2023-2027)
  • ESRC Vulnerability and Policing Futures Research Centre. ESRC Centres Scheme (2022-2027) 

Past Research Projects (Selected) 

  • Understanding the geospatial and contextual patterns of rural domestic abuse: an exploratory study. Home Office Science, Technology, Analysis and Research Fund (2021-2022)
  • Reducing the Unanticipated Crime Harms of Covid-19 Policies. Project ES/V00445X/1 of the ESRC under the UKRI Open Call on COVID-19 (2020-2021)
  • Forecasting the Future of Policing: Exploring the use of Data-Driven Agent-based Modelling for Simulating Police Demand and Resourcing Dynamics: Phase 2. UKRI programme for AI for Science and Government - under EPSRC Grant EP/T001569/1 (2020-2021)
  • Developing a Prototype Computational Modelling Platform of Crime-related Demand and Police Supply Dynamics. UKRI programme for AI for Science and Government - under EPSRC Grant EP/T001569/1 (2019-2020)
  • Forecasting the Future of Policing: Exploring the use of Data-Driven Agent-based Modelling for Simulating Police Demand and Resourcing Dynamics: Exploratory Phase. UKRI programme for AI for Science and Government - under EPSRC Grant EP/T001569/1 (2018)
  • Turing Fellowship: Advancing Computational Criminology: Constructing Computational Models to Support Understanding, Prediction, and Disruption of Crime. (2018)
  • Emerging Technology and Big Data Analytics: Realising the Potential of Automatic Number Plate Recognition, N8 Police Research Partnership Small Grants Scheme (2018)
  • Predictive Policing in An Australian Context: Assessing Viability and Utility, Australian Institute of Criminology - Criminology Research Grants Scheme (2016)
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD Criminology
  • MSc Cognitive Science
  • BSc (Hons) Artificial Intelligence & Computer Science

Student education

At Leeds I have taught on a range of undergraduate and postgraduate modules including‘Rethinking Policing’, ‘Researching Crime, Security and Justice’, ‘Quantitative Social Research II’, ‘Crime Prevention and Crime Science’ (undergraduate module) and ‘Technology, Crime and Justice’.

Completed PhD Students:

  • Dr Anthony Dixon. Thesis: "Improving Problem-Oriented Policing with Natural Language Processing" – Primary Supervisor
  • Dr Natacha Chenevoy. Thesis: "Determining optimal police patrol deployments: a simulation-based optimisation approach combining agent-based modelling and genetic algorithms" – Primary Supervisor
  • Dr Verity Tether. Thesis: "Exploring crime generators and attractors: a hybrid of theoretical, computational and empirical approaches"
  • Dr Emily Sheard. Thesis: "Developing a combined risk model for the prediction of temporally clustered offences"

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Criminal Justice Studies

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>