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Forensic Science Research and Practice Professor Jim Fraser The Centre for Forensic Science University of Strathclyde © Centre for Forensic Science University.

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Presentation on theme: "Forensic Science Research and Practice Professor Jim Fraser The Centre for Forensic Science University of Strathclyde © Centre for Forensic Science University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Forensic Science Research and Practice Professor Jim Fraser The Centre for Forensic Science University of Strathclyde © Centre for Forensic Science University of Strathclyde

2 Barriers to Research Complexity- multiple stakeholders Heterogeneity- legal & procedural Sensitivity- confidential information Immaturity- of academic forensic science and forensic science practice Funding- rarely accessible via traditional means

3 European Network of Forensic Science Institutes Complex research environment: scientists, police, academia and the legal profession. Practitioner-researcher relationship requires support to be productive. Crime and related matters- R&D requires effective interdisciplinary cooperation (natural and social sciences)

4 European Academy of Forensic Science Two major surveys Research capability, capacity and interest Client/user needs and aspirations Members of European Security Research Information Forum (ESRIF) Influencing research agenda and funding (FP7/AFT) Digital technology and crime scene reconstruction Objective interpretation of multi-modal evidence Mobile technology for recovery and real time trace analysis

5 Advanced Forensic Toolbox

6 EPSRC Funding of the Forensic Process

7 Network 2: Evidence & Investigation This network will provide a focus for research in a range of specialist areas related to the role of the police in the recovery, interpretation and effective use of intelligence and evidence in the investigation of crime and major incidents. This will include the development and evaluation of policy and good practice in the strategic and tactical use of forensic sciences. Jointly funded by the Scottish Police Service and the Scottish Funding Council

8 Effective use of Forensic Science in the Investigation of ‘Volume’ Crime University of Strathclyde, Lothian & Borders Police, Strathclyde Police, Scottish Police Services Authority Forensic Services, Scottish police Training College, Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service Systematic longitudinal study of use of forensic science particularly DNA, fingerprints, shoe marks and tool marks from crime scene to criminal justice disposal

9 Research ‘ Creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge of man, culture and society and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications. R&D is a term covering three activities: basic research, applied research and experimental development.’ University of Strathclyde Time Allocation Exercise

10 Research Activity and Outputs ‘HEI’s are now being seen as strong partners in research strategies for a number of …[forensic science] providers …[demonstrating] the valuable input that HEIs can offer to the furtherance of new knowledge for use in a forensic context.’ Letter to Science & Justice 48 (2008) Very few operational forensic science laboratories in Europe have a formal remit to carry out research and some claim that they perform no research or development at all

11 Academic publication rates

12 Top 10 Publishing Institutions in in All Biotechnology Name Average no of papers per year University of Cambridge536 University of Oxford536 University College London399 University of Edinburgh275 Imperial College260 University of Glasgow209 University of Manchester204 Imperial Cancer Research Fund199 University of Dundee198 University of Birmingham181

13 Effective Collaboration Requires an ethical approach with shared understanding and therefore management of : research priorities and aims Research outputs- where and in what form? Confidentiality - criminal justice Intellectual property rights Commercial development and exploitation

14 Research as a Promissory Note Research is necessary to generate new knowledge but it is not sufficient on its own to guarantee a desired outcome especially if this has a professional, organisational or social dimension such as a police investigation or a criminal trial.

15 Research Methodologies Poor experimental design especially controlling for subjectivity and failure to use basic statistical tests are frequently encountered FBI tape comparison Home Office/PSU crime reduction via fingerprint processes ‘Weekend’ DNA failures The ‘common sense, bug

16 A Typology of Forensic Science Type 1 Strong scientific methodology, interpretation requires limited or no extrinsic information Drug identification DNA identification Chemical identity Type 2 Strong scientific methodology, interpretation requires extrinsic information, largely domain relevant Toxicology Drug profiling RTOH calculation Type 3 Limited or no scientific methodology, interpretation requires limited or no extrinsic information Fingerprints Physical fits Type 4 limited or no scientific methodology, may require significant domain extrinsic information including domain irrelevant Damage to clothing Bloodstain patterns Scene reconstruction

17 90% of USA fingerprint experts agree that identification is 100% certain, 5% disagree and 4% are unsure Only 61% of European experts agree with this statement and 30% disagree 8% of European experts are unsure

18 Some Questions What proportion of forensic practice is evidence based? How good are forensic scientists at communicating the significance of their evidence? Do juries understand scientific evidence and what are the implications if they do not? Is forensic science value for money- which bits?


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