The Forensic Science Special Interest Group (FoSci SIG) is a community of everyone involved in forensic science, including end users, suppliers of products and services, academics and other researchers, and policy makers. It is funded by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), and run by a partnership between the Electronics, Sensors, Photonics (ESP) KTN, the Biosciences KTN, and the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) KTN.
The FoSci SIG was set up in July 2012 following a recommendation in June 2011 by the Home Office Chief Scientific Adviser in his review of R&D in Forensic Science. The SIG was then launched on the 9th November 2012 at the Forensic Horizons conference, a one day event led by the Forensic Science Society to explore the opportunities of collaborative research and development. The SIG runs a programme of activities including events and workshops, capability mapping, road mapping, and dissemination, in order to achieve the following objectives:
- Build and maintain an active community;
- Work with stakeholders through workshops;
- Improve understanding of application opportunities;
- Improve dissemination of state-of-the-art technologies.
There are many applications in forensic science, including DNA, fingerprints, footprints, CCTV, and ballistics, for which improving accuracy and reliability is of great importance and requires mathematical innovation. The Models and Algorithms work-package within the FoSci SIG, delivered by the Industrial Mathematics KTN (IM-KTN), primarily focuses on comparison making and the assignment of evidential value, and considers each of three phases of bringing evidence to court:
- the collection of relevant and reliable databases to inform the computation of probabilities and support model development and validation;
- the statistical algorithms and mathematical models produced which are used to underpin the calculation of probabilities;
- the vital component of expert witness opinion when making, interpreting, and presenting comparisons, which is an element of model validation. Ultimately, models are fit for purpose only if their conclusions assist in the effective operation of the Criminal Justice System (CJS).