The correct evaluation, presentation and interpretation of evidence – particularly forensic evidence – is a critical aspect of the investigation and prosecution of crime, especially crimes against the person such as murder, serious assault, or sexual crimes. The need for accuracy and improvement in this area has been highlighted by the recent media attention paid to DNA profiling and by the Royal Commission on Miscarriages of Justice. Incorrect use of evidence can and does lead to problems ranging from wasted police time carrying out unnecessary forensic tests, through appeals against court rulings due to inappropriate use of evidence in court, to possible miscarriages of justice where a person is charged on the basis of "positive " evidence without adequate consideration of "negative" evidence.
A multidisciplinary Centre for Forensic Statistics and Legal Reasoning has been set up, drawing on skills in statistics, law and artificial intelligence from the University of Edinburgh and Glasgow Caledonian University. The objectives of the Centre are:
The Centre began its operations on 1 March 2001. Its current staff are:
Two further appointments will be announced shortly.
The Centre works in collaboration with the Lothian and Borders Police Forensic Science Laboratory.