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The RITHMS project, supported by the European Union, is a groundbreaking initiative designed to enhance the operational capacity of police and customs/border authorities in tackling the increasingly organized and multifaceted nature of cultural goods trafficking. Comprising an interdisciplinary consortium that includes police authorities, border agencies, a police school, SMEs, and research centres from the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) and Information and Communication Technologies (one of which is ESI CEE) RITHMS is poised to deliver state-of-the-art solutions to safeguard our cultural heritage more effectively.

The illicit trade of cultural objects is no longer a minor, localized issue but a lucrative global enterprise exploited by criminal networks. These organizations leverage online auctions and social media to enhance their reach and profitability, thriving in a market plagued by inconsistent regulations and uncertain traceability. RITHMS addresses these challenges with a comprehensive, interdisciplinary strategy essential for combating the transnational aspect of this crime and its connections to broader criminal enterprises.

RITHMS champions innovative cross-disciplinary research by integrating insights from art market analysis, criminology, legal studies, and forensic science. This collaborative approach informs the development of an advanced digital platform built on Social Network Analysis (SNA) methodologies. This platform will not only identify and elucidate the structures of criminal networks but also provide crucial intelligence for ongoing investigations.

Core Objectives of the RITHMS Project:

  • Broadening Understanding Through Cross-Sectoral Research. Convene experts from diverse fields to deepen our understanding of cultural property crime and its ties to other forms of organized crime.
  • Equipping Law Enforcement with Cutting-Edge Technology. Provide law enforcement agencies with a robust IT platform based on SNA, tailored to frontline practitioners’ specific needs and requirements.
  • Operationalizing Knowledge and Technology. Implement and sustain the RITHMS SNA platform, ensuring its effectiveness, longevity, and utility as a legitimate tool for court proceedings post-project.
  • Enhancing Cooperation to Tackle Illicit Trafficking. Promote extensive collaboration among various stakeholders to address this crime’s organized and mobile nature from multiple complementary perspectives.

By offering detailed insights into the networks’ structure and evolution, the project aims to improve the information’s accuracy and accessibility for law enforcement agencies.

Learn more about the RITHMS project here: https://rithms.eu/

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