Dr Daniel Birks


I am a computational social scientist primarily focusing on urban analytics and the role computational methods can play in better understanding, predicting and disrupting crime problems and improving well-being. I hold degrees in Artificial intelligence and Computer science, Cognitive science, and Criminology, and have almost 20 years’ experience working closely with criminal justice 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's Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science.

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 of 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 link multiple disparate criminal justice agency datasets, providing unique longitudinal datasets, and constructing systems models of the criminal justice system which were used by Queensland Government to conduct scenario planning. Working at the Australian Research Council’s Centre for Excellence in Policing and Security, I applied econometric models to study offender decision-making in multiple international cities. 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) – a £7 million HEFCE funded collaboration between eight northern UK universities and 11 UK police services. The PRP aims to foster research collaborations that will help address the problems of 21st century policing, and achieve international excellence in policing research and impact.

In 2018, I was awarded a Turing Fellowship by the Alan Turing Institute – the UK national centre for Data Science and AI. As a Turing Fellow I am engaged with both the Public Policy and Urban Analytics themes. In addition, I am an active member of the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics and sit on various committees and advisory groups at the University of Leeds advocating for interdisciplinary research at the intersection of the social and computational sciences. In 2021 I became one of three innaugral co-directors of LIDA: Societies – an interdisciplinary research community 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.

Most recently, in 2022, I became deputy director of the ESRC Vulnerability and Policing Futures Research Centre where I direct a program of research that seeks to apply modern data analytic methods to connected 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 £11m of research income and published in the leading criminological journals worldwide including Criminology, The Journal of Quantitative Criminology, and The Journal of Experimental Criminology. Most recently, I have been principal investigator on three sequentially EPSRC funded projects exploring how computer simulations can help police better understand supply and demand dynamics. In addition, I am currently co-investigator on an ESRC project funded through the UKRI open call on COVID-19 that seeks to understand and reduce the unanticipated crime harms of covid-19 policies.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">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

In recent years, I have taught on the following modules.

  • ‘Rethinking Policing’ (postgraduate module)
  • ‘Researching Crime, Security and Justice’ (postgraduate module)
  • ‘Quantitative Social Research II’ (undergraduate module)
  • Crime Prevention and Crime Science’ (undergraduate module)
  • ‘Technology, Crime and Justice’ (undergraduate module)

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="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>