A Dutch team said last week that they were developing “worldwide standards to validate evidentiary value methods” which would standardize the way forensic scientists compare and contrast information across borders, and between investigations and agencies.
But the international consensus is going to be a very complex and exacting process involving many voices from many nations, said one of the Americans who will be involved in the process.
Elham Tabassi, an engineer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, told Forensic Magazine in an interview Tuesday that the process is still so early as to be considered at “step zero” – and will involve far more people than just those at the Netherlands Forensic Institute.
“It’s not going to be one voice… It’s a consensus-based process,” Tabassi said. “We don’t know what the standards are going to be.”
Likelihood ratios are conceived as a way of initially establishing certainty in biometric evidence collections. The work is expected to eventually translate to other forms of evidence.
The Dutch team envisions a four-year project to lead the international effort – and they said 15 different countries agreed to the initiative – including the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Sweden, Russia, and Australia.
“It will increase trust in forensic investigations, as everyone will work to the same standard and research is validated in the same manner everywhere,” said Didier Meuwly, principal scientist at the NFI.
The “very formal process” of determining value validation methods might involve other factors beyond likelihood ratios, said Tabassi, an engineer who has worked for 17 years at NIST. It will be in the interest of determining a uniform language for interpreting evidence across borders and between agencies, she said.
The first meeting of the group will be in January, she said. Years of work will follow, and probably changes in direction, based on the dialogue.
“We’re all trying to learn from each other,” she said. “I don’t see it like people are doing their own thing – we’re all trying to understand better, and learn better.”