There have been a lot of things going on, and I did not have enough time to fill this blog. Last week I went to Madrid for ENFSI, in order to prepare our meeting for the Forensic IT working group www.enfsi.eu . I am also invited for the 19th conference of ANZFSS http://www.anzfss2008.org.au/ and it is the week before Madrid to give a plenary talk and a workshop.
And finally finished a deliverable for FIDIS www.fidis.net on Forensic Profiling. I took over a small website for our apartements in Zandvoort www.trompborgh.nl . And finally I have to rewrite some chapter of a book on forensic science. And of course some work for the encyclopedia. Still we are wondering if there are partners for EU projects on the forensic toolbox in digital evidence.
There are many holidays in the end of April and beginning of May. In forensic science we always have discussions on time of delivery however quality is always most important.
Also discussions on the market in forensic science. If we look at the Forensic Science Service http://www.forensic.gov.uk, it is an example where it did not work out that well at the moment. It appears that the police groups itself with procurements and that there is not a real open market, since there are only a few bidders. Also the prices of forensic casework are not undermined, and it is questionable if the so much needed Research and Development can be paid for if you leave it open to the market. It is however a relatively small market, where we see the figures of 40-50 millions euros available.
However the market is as such interesting for people that like media attention, and so it can be a spin off for other research. Also in the United States we see that there is not a real market in forensic casework in criminal justice, and of course in civil cases it is a real market.
Also in the Netherlands we see some developments with companies and universities that are starting forensic casework. There are also developments with a register where experts are certified for forensic casework.
Of course it is good to have more source where one can get forensic expertise of, however we should make sure that the quality is maintained. In the common law countries it is more obvious to have defense expert witnesses. They have a market on these, where they read the reports and will give comments on the methods being used.
Also in the system of Dutch Law (which is influenced by Napoleon), we have the prosecutors that are standing magistrates. In some cases a different opinion is needed, and a defense expert might be asked for.
There are people that claim that we should have a market in forensic science. And when I discuss with some of them, they claim I do not understand economics, since the market should work as such. Often the large laboraties are from the state, and are nearly monopolies, since the bills are paid directly by government. If we open the market everyone should have equal rights, of course under the condition that they have a good quality assurance system.
I am not sure what will happen. Since most labs have large backlogs it is also not good that these exist. If there is a market these back logs might vanish. It is good to do some small tests and look what works best. We also see that in healthcare some market working was good, since the waiting times have been improved very much. However there should be enough casework to keep the experience ready for each lab, and with some niche markets this might not work.