Statistics for Forensic Analysts

Statistics for Forensic Analysts

Statistics play an important and expanding role in criminal investigations, prosecutions and trials, not least in relation to forensic scientific evidence produced by expert witnesses. The Royal Statistical Society (UK) began a process in 2010 to inform and educate stakeholders in the justice system in with their publication of Fundamentals of Probability and Statistical Evidence in Criminal Proceedings. From that original work product, a total of four publications have been produced from the Society’s Statistics and the Law Section. Simultaneously, the National Commission on Forensic Science (US) began to study the issue. Several of its subcommittees have informed the discussion on the use of statistics in forensic science, issuing various guidance documents to the US Department of Justice. In 2015, the US state of Texas passed SB-1287 creating a licensing program for forensic science practitioners and analysts. Within the Texas licensing program, analysts will be tested across a variety of foundational domains in order to obtain licensure, including statistics.

Analysts working in the natural sciences often face educational prerequisites as a condition of employment. Most will have taken some form of quantitative analysis or statistics in college. However, analysts working in the physical sciences, such as tool-mark analysts, latent print analysts, or digital/multimedia analysts, often arrive in these positions without a college degree. In state / local police service, it is often credentialed peace officers who are filling these roles. As such, they may not have exposure to education in statistics or probability. Yet, these sciences form the foundation of many of the conclusions reached in the physical sciences.

Educational opportunities for forensic analysts are generally limited to their specific work domains. For those seeking to increase their knowledge and gain proficiency in quantitative analysis and statistics, no forensic science specific programs exist ... until now. To address this problem, Apex Learning has created just such a program of instruction.

Click here for more information on AL100 - Statistics for Forensic Analysts.

A significant number of analysts have no training, education, or experience in basic statistics or elementary probabilistic reasoning for forensic science applications and related concepts, which is a prerequisite or entry-skill to forensic analysis. The target group of students in this population is those people assigned to forensic analysis duties (producers) and those people who receive and interpret the results of forensic analysis (consumers).

Learn the different types of studies that can produce scientifically valid and repeatable findings.

Learn key measurement concepts including sources of measurement error and their impact on reliability and validity.

Learn statistical concepts including standard error, standard deviation, confidence interval, significance level, likelihood ratio, probability, conditional probability, Bayes’ theorem, and odds.

Learn the basic concepts regarding the uncertainty of measurement.

Learn the use of probability to explain the weight of evidence.

From Acquistion
to Analysis
to Reporting
to Testimony

What is Forensic Science? Forensic science, regardless of the specific discipline, is the systematic and coherent study of traces to address questions of authentication, identification, classification, reconstruction, and evaluation for a legal context.

What is a trace? A trace is any modification, subsequently observable, resulting from an event.

Competency-Based Training: because of the overlap that exists across the digital and multimedia domains, it is often preferable to focus first on a broad baseline of training that includes both the acquisition of evidence as well as the analysis of that is collected. Analysts can then dive into the depths of specific domains of analysis. Whilst other programs focus on tool-specific training that is more "show and tell" than training to competency, we focus on providing students with a meaningful pathway to a mastery of the subject matter.