Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Reduction Human Error in Forensic Analysis

A recent report from NIST on Latent Print Analysis sheds some light on potential human errors in all forensic disciplines.

Here's some of the report's suggestions:

  • Urging management at forensic service provider facilities to foster a culture in which it is understood that some human error is inevitable and that openness about errors leads to improvements in practice;
  • Documenting latent print examinations at a detail level that would permit another examiner to assess the accuracy and validity of the work; 
  • Requiring agencies that employ latent print examiners to establish requirements and guidelines for reporting, documentation, and testimony that are reviewed for each examiner at least annually; and
  • Intensely preparing print examiners and other forensic experts to give credible and accurate testimony in trials, stressing skills such as using lay language, creating visuals that can easily be understood, and thinking clearly under cross-examination. 
The working group also identified a number of future steps that should be taken to advance the error reduction effort, including: prerequisite educational and skill standards for examiner training; continuing education, mentoring, and accreditation/certification programs; research to integrate automated systems into the early stages of print analysis; and a comprehensive testing program for ensuring examiner competency and proficiency.

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