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Recent Pan-European advances in harmonising evaluative reporting in forensic science: scope, principles and pending challenges

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FOSW01 - The nature of questions arising in court that can be addressed via probability and statistical methods

Co-authors: Christophe Champod (University of Lausanne), Sheila Willis (Forensic Science Ireland)

Since decades, the question of how to assess and report the value of forensic results preoccupies academics and practitioners in both forensic science and the law across Europe and beyond. In essence, this topic gravitates around the issue of what constitutes a logical framework of reasoning, and how it can be operationalized in the applied context of legal trials. Often, statistics and probabilistic reasoning are promoted as \emph{the} framework, yet the overarching topic is larger and is concerned with the reasonable reasoning in the face of uncertainty. Unfortunately, restricted views over the former have limited viable contributions by the latter. To help overcome these barriers, forensic science and legal practitioners across Europe have partnered—over the past few years—in the development of mutual understanding on general principles of forensic interpretation in terms of a guideline, delivered as the result of a project in the ENFSI (European Network of Forensic Science Institutes) Monopoly Programme scheme `Strengthening the Evaluation of Forensic Results across Europe' (financially supported by the European Commission). Built upon elements of previously published standards (e.g., by the Association of Forensic Science Providers), the \emph{ENFSI Guideline For Evaluative Reporting In Forensic Science} also includes an assessment template for forensic expert reports and a roadmap for implementation. This makes it one of the most cross-disciplinary, institutionally supported acknowledgments of current understandings of logical inference in the courtroom, and scholarly research in this area. This talk will focus on presenting the scope and major principles of the ENFSI Guideline, and discuss challenges associated with its wider and more systematic implementation. It will be argued that the guideline's matured principles make it an inevitable component of future works that seek to promote and facilitate the smoother operating of logical judicial proces

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