PhD students present forensic research at prestigious international conference

Students from the INTREPID Forensics programme, based at the University of Leicester, presented their work at the 2nd Congress of the European Division of the International Association of Identification (IAI), which was held at the INTERPOL Headquarters in Lyon, France on 20-21 October 2016.

One of the students, Francisco Valente Gonçalves presented part of his PhD research which looks into the variations of forensic practices around the world.

Working with forensic practitioners from 10 countries worldwide (UK, Portugal, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Brazil, U.S., China, Australia and New Zealand), Francisco visited more than 20 laboratories where he carried out interviews and experiments.

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The group of attendees at the conference

He said: “Due to misconceptions promoted by TV shows such as CSI, lay-people, lawyers and judges tend to expect forensic evidence to be 100% reliable as well as the techniques used in different countries to be always equal.

“My research has found some interesting differences in procedures between laboratories I visited. Results from my research suggests that better communication between forensic practitioners and legal actors (e.g. lawyers and judges) should be promoted. Types of contextual information, which may be the source of cognitive bias and misguided decisions, need to be re-considered in order to take forensic examiners’ motivation into account, which seems to contribute to better performance.”

He believes his research results could provide suggestions for new guidelines within forensic disciplines in the future in order to prevent miscarriages of justice as well as improving collaboration between agencies by promoting standards for communication during international investigations.