Friday, February 17, 2012

An open and shut case

From the UK Guardian: "...The fear is that the ongoing marketisation of forensics will inevitably lead to loss of quality. Alastair Logan predicts a proliferation of what he calls 'toy labs' where work done quickly, cheaply and without quality checks (such as ISO 17025) as police respond to their own pressures to cut costs. "One has only to recall the handling of exhibits in the Stephen Lawrence case to know how poor training and understanding affect the detection of crime," Logan reflects.

Nigel Hodge is a forensic scientist and former reporting officer at the FSS's Chepstow lab. He believes that scrapping the FSS will undermine the development of a sector previously bolstered by the public service ethos of the FSS. "While individual forensic scientists may be primarily concerned with issues relating to justice, the companies that employ them are driven by commercial motives: maximisation of profit, increasing market share, brand identity etc," he reckons.

Then there is what Hodges calls "the whole business of trade secrets" where a forensic services provider develops a new technology this puts him at a competitive advantage. "There is a danger of a 'black box' situation developing where information is put into a system by forensic scientists, and 'evidence' pops out of the other end but where no one really knows what goes on in between." Forensic science shouldn't be like "a secret recipe for fried chicken", he adds. Quite ..."

It's a good thing that here in the US, we have Daubert and Frye - in other words, we scientists have to prove that our methods aren't novel and are reliable and repeatable.

Click here to read the whole story.

Enjoy.

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