Saturday, June 08, 2013

June 2013

On 7 June 2013 I attended a very nice meeting of the Amsterdam Center of Forensic Science of the University of Amsterdam, where Huub Hardy was the guest of honor. Nice discussions on the use of by Ian Evett, where it appears that the use of Bayes Theorem in the United Kingdom is in jeopardy. This concerns to major concern of forensic scientists, as can also be seen in several ENFSI guidelines where this is the advised method of reporting . One of the issues is that conclusions in report are more difficult to read, and that it is not easy to understand.  However once the court (at least in the Netherlands) the judges, advocates and prosecutors gets used to these conclusions, they appear to be of additional value especially for combining and interpreting the value of the evidence.

During this meeting there were also good discussions on error rates in forensic science. In the past Jonathan Koehler presented issues of concerns. For that reason it is obvious that error rates in specific areas and labs should be stated in the reports somewhere, or at least should be published, similar as we see this development in comparison of hospitals. During proficiency tests and collaborative test they can be determined (at least for a specific kind of case), however I think there also the uncertainty of the error rate should be given. Last time when I testified in a court of appeal in The Hague the question was asked how I personally scored on those, as well as how the group and the whole ENFSI group scored. This is also one of the issues mentioned by Ian Evett, and he stated it as calibration between persons and groups, which should be done such that the conclusions are harmonized between labs.

Also a new development that was presented was forensic assistants at the court who can answer the most common questions on forensic methods, as well ask helping the courts in combining evidence based on the reports.