School of Mathematical Sciences

Primoz Skraba contributes to House of Lords forensic science inquiry

Dr Primoz Skraba, Senior Lecturer in Applied and Computational Topology in the School of Mathematical Sciences, has contributed to a submission of written evidence to the House of Lords which has recently been published. 

31 October 2018

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The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee inquiry into Forensic Science has been set up to explore the role of forensic science within the UK Criminal Justice System in light of concerns over the weaknesses of current forensic methods in the delivery of justice.  

Dr Skraba’s evidence to the inquiry formed part of a submission by the Alan Turing Institute, where Dr Skraba is a Fellow. His evidence highlighted the gaps that currently exist in the understanding of forensic statistics within the justice system, where conclusions must be drawn from individual measurements rather than repeated experiments.

Dr Skraba also warned of the problems linked to the increasing use of machine learning and automatic algorithmic analysis:

“The outcome [of automated analyses] is often treated as truth, whereas, in reality, mistakes may be common. In the past, one could rely on population statistics being normally distributed. However, for these new methods, the error rate is often difficult to assess.” He argued that additional statistical techniques are required for the forensic setting, “with an emphasis on understanding uncertainty.”

You can read the full submission on the House of Lords Website here.