July 1999 Volume
1 Number 2
Presentations at the
International Symposium on Setting Quality Standards for the
San Antonio, Texas
May 3-7, 1999
The following abstracts
of the presentations are ordered alphabetically by authors' last
Good Science Comes From Good Questions
I. W. Evett
Birmingham, United Kingdom
The heart of forensic science
as distinct from forensic technology is scientific inference.
Given that we can control the quality of all of the mechanisms
for generating observations and data, it remains to establish
the logic of how we use those results to reason within a legal
The application of probability
theory to forensic inference leads to basic principles of interpretation.
These, in turn, show how to frame the right kind of questions
to address in a given case. Although the principles have been
established for many years, it is remarkable that failure to
observe them is widespread. This issue strikes at the very heart
of forensic science. If we are invoking terms such as probable
and unlikely in our opinions without an understanding of the
nature of probability theory, then we cannot claim to be logical.
If we aren't being logical, then we cannot claim to be scientific.
The forensic catch-all phrase, consistent with, has no value
for the purpose of inference. It is an obstacle to rational and
Within this presentation,
I have discussed such issues from the perspective of a recent
initiative within the Forensic Science Service that is known
as the Case Assessment and Interpretation Project. Case examples
have been given.
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Standard Protocol Development in
Laboratory Analysis of Fire Debris and Explosives
M. L. Fultz
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
The development of standard
protocols for analysis of fire debris began in 1989 when the
Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) approached the forensic
community about reestablishing the Committee on Forensic Science.
Founded in 1898, ASTM is one of the largest providers of voluntary
consensus standards related to technical information in the world.
The Committee on Forensic Science, designated E30, has the mission
of developing standard protocols for disciplines within forensic
science. A criminalistics subcommittee, designated E30.01, first
developed protocols for the sample preparation and analysis of
fire debris standards. ASTM committees assign a task group composed
of subject matter experts to develop standards, which are voted
on by consensus before becoming published standards. Standards
are reviewed at least every five years. The current standards
are in Volume 14.02 of ASTM standards.
In 1997, the National Center
for Forensic Science (NCFS), a joint project between the University
of Central Florida and the National Institute of Justice, was
created. The goal of the NCFS is to create a unique laboratory
facility that is staffed and equipped to service the forensic
and law enforcement communities in the areas of fire and explosion
debris. Given this mandate, NCFS agreed to administer a technical
working group to develop standards for fire debris and explosives
analyses. In August 1997, NCFS hosted a National Needs Symposium
to assess the forensic community's need for standard protocols.
Having identified that there were needs for standards in analysis
protocols, training, and education requirements, TWGFEX (Technical
Working Group for Fires and Explosions) was formed in August
1998. This group, composed of experts from federal, state, and
local laboratories, is just beginning to address the needs of
the forensic community. TWGFEX's first task was to develop and
distribute a survey identifying needs in the forensic community
as a whole for standards in the area of fire debris and explosives
analysis, training, and education. TWGFEX met again in February
1999 to review the results of the survey. Each subgroup within
TWGFEX developed goals and tasks to address the needs identified.
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Blind Proficiency Testing: The Experience With
R. E. Gaensslen and J. L. Peterson
University of Illinois at Chicago
Many factors enter into the
conceptualization, planning, and execution of proficiency testing
(PT) programs in forensic science laboratories. Among the first
that must be considered is the purpose of PT, what role is it
expected to play in the overall quality assurance (QA) program
for the laboratory. A clear sense of the purpose and role of
PT in the QA program helps form a framework for the discussion
about whether PT should be open, blind, or both. In this presentation,
I discussed the cases for, and against, blind PT as compared
with open PT.
Other issues that must be
considered include a definition, or guidelines for a definition,
of acceptable performance on a PT. It is a general conclusion
that laboratories are unlikely to want to participate in a PT
program in which acceptable performance is not readily definable.
This concept allows the issue of testing to the average versus
testing to the margin to be raised and discussed.
Closely connected to any
discussion of PT as a QA measure is the notion of laboratory
error rates. Raised by the Supreme Court in Daubert v. Merrell
Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., some have suggested that PT comprised
a method or approach for the measurement of laboratory error
rates. This notion has particularly been raised in connection
with arguments for blind, as against open, PT.
At the University of Illinois
in Chicago, we have completed a small-scale trial to determine
the feasibility and estimate the costs of implementing a large-scale
(national) blind PT program for the DNA analysis laboratories.
In this presentation, I briefly discussed the results and findings
of those studies.
The final phase of our work
in blind DNA laboratory PT involves additional research on the
extent to which cases in forensic laboratories are currently
subject to some kind of review (internal, external, adversarial,
or a combination of these). It may be that the objectives intended
by a large-scale blind PT program are essentially being met by
practices already being followed in many laboratories. In this
phase, we also hope to determine something about the feasibility
of blindly introducing somewhat more complex specimens into laboratories
as PTs and to see what the performance of a series of reference
laboratories on such specimens is like.
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Personal Accreditation in Forensic Science:
United Kingdom Model
Forensic Science Service
Birmingham, United Kingdom
The provision of scientific
support to the police and other parts of the justice system plays
an important role in the effort to maintain law and order worldwide.
Because of this, it is vital that society has the fullest confidence
in the work carried out by forensic science practitioners. The
vast majority of the work withstands the closest scrutiny. However,
a few high-profile criminal cases have highlighted the damage
that can be caused to the public's confidence in the justice
system when flawed scientific evidence contributes to the wrongful
conviction of innocent people. The effective training, development,
and above all the assured competence of staff working in the
sector are of paramount importance. This was emphasized in the
Royal Commission on Criminal Justice Report in 1994.
Many organizations in the
forensic science sector in the United Kingdom have for several
years developed quality management systems to underpin the quality
of their work and to enable them to achieve accreditation to
standards such as the ISO
9000 series for general management systems and the NAMAS M10
standards for scientific and technical work. The personal accreditation
initiative that I describe in this presentation is now beginning
to provide a complementary framework to assure the quality of
the work of individuals in organizations. This was recognized
several years ago when, under the leadership of the Forensic
Science Service (FSS), the forensic science community first began
to develop the necessary occupational standards of performance
for those working in forensic science. In addition to the sector's
own initiatives, powerful support has come from two important
directions in recent years.
First, the Royal Commission
on Criminal Justice looked carefully into the training and qualifications
of forensic scientists and, in their report to government, included
the important recommendation: Continuing efforts should be made
to develop qualifications related to the competence of forensic
In the government's final
response to the commission, it accepted this recommendation and
said that it encourages the current progress being made towards
developing national vocational qualifications for forensic scientists.
In addition, it stated that these vocational qualifications will
be the mechanism by which regular assessment of competences are
carried out and the focus for training.
Second, the sector's work
was also strongly endorsed by the House of Lords Select Committee
on Forensic Science.
The Chief Executive of the
Forensic Science Service also endorsed the concept of workplace
assessments and has encouraged the development of standards of
performance based on the United Kingdom central government's
national vocational qualification initiative.
To set the scene, I refer
to Paul Kirk who, in his article, "The Ontogeny of Criminalistics"
(1) published in 1963, implied that "training does not guarantee
competence" and went on to say that "some form of licensing,
certification, or some other indication attesting a practitioner's
competence may need to be adopted ultimately."
It is with the latter statement
of Kirk, made all those years ago, that this presentation is
concerned: "Some form of licensing, certification, or some
other indication attesting a practitioner's competence may need
to be adopted ultimately."
The goal is therefore clear:
determine what practitioners are required to do, support them
in some way to achieve that, and have in place a process to hallmark
Competence is the ability
to work to the standards set in employment. In its broadest sense
this includes all of the activities required to do a job, not
simply the technical activities, although in this presentation
the discussion about competence will be confined, in the main,
to technical activities.
As long ago as 1991 the FSS
recognized that standards of performance could be the starting
point for an effective process to assess the performance of individuals
and encouraged the start of work to develop them for forensic
science practitioners in the United Kingdom. Under the initiative
of the Forensic Science Service, a meeting was called of individuals
representing the entire forensic science community in the United
Often the word sector is
used in place of community and refers to all those individuals
and organizations that play a part in the provision of a scientific
support service. The sector ranges from major public service
laboratories to one-person organizations and large and small
private companies. It includes police service employees working
in the day-to-day examination of crime scenes and fingerprints
and, in time, may include others. The support for establishing
such a sector-representative body came from central government,
which was at that time and still is encouraging the development
of national vocational qualifications in all areas of work in
the United Kingdom. The qualifications are based upon agreed
standards of performance. It was, therefore, an initiative not
unique to forensic science.
Occupational standards are
developed by working groups of competent practitioners under
the guidance of a consultant who specializes in standards development
The representation of the
standards is important. They must be written in such a manner
that they can be used to assess the performance of individuals.
All occupational standards in whatever discipline are represented
along similar lines.
First, a description of a
main work activity is essential, which is sometimes called a
unit of competence and it describes the area of work on which
the candidate will be assessed. A subset of this work activity,
often called an element of competence, describes the work activity
that the candidate must complete for assessment purposes. A series
of performance criteria that relate to each element of competence
list what a candidate must do to carry out the activity to the
agreed standard. In other words, it is a knowledge of the performance
criteria that is vital to the assessment process. These performance
criteria could equally be called measures of performance.
Each of the units of competence
will have several elements of competence, and each of the elements
of competence will have a series of performance criteria, all
of which are determined by working groups of practitioners.
There are other nontechnical
units of competence also, but I confine this presentation to
the essential technical competences. Some of the nontechnical
competences could be leading teams, facilitating learning in
groups, and managing resources and people.
To illustrate this, take
as an example the Examination of Marks and Impressions units
of competence for this subject area, which have been determined
1. Prepare to carry out examinations
2. Assess examination items,
3. Examine items,
4. Interpret findings,
5. Report findings, and
6. Undertake specialist scene examinations.
To continue with this example
from Marks and Impressions, next look at the first unit of competence:
Prepare to carry out examinations and comparisons. I mentioned
previously that each unit of competence comprised several elements
of competence. For this unit they have been determined by working
groups to be the following:
1.1 Determine case requirements and provide advice on investigation.
1.2 Prepare equipment and work area.
1.3 Establish the integrity of items and samples.
Now each of the elements
of competence has several associated performance criteria against
which a candidate is assessed. Consider the element of competence
to determine case requirements and provide advice on investigation.
These performance criteria have been established to be the following:
a. Details of circumstances
are established and considered against exhibits received and
b. Operational constraints
that could affect the examinations are identified and clarified
with relevant personnel.
c. Items submitted are confirmed
to be appropriate for the work to be undertaken and where the
inappropriate client is advised of the decision.
d. Storage requirements of
potential evidence are established and arrangements are made
for safe, secure, and clean facilities.
e. A reliable estimate of
resource requirements is provided to relevant personnel and proposed
ways of working are modified to cope with resource constraints
in accordance with the advice received.
f. The sequence of the various
aspects of the work are agreed and prioritized with relevant
personnel to enhance the effectiveness of the investigation.
g. Relevant information is
accurately, legibly, and comprehensively recorded.
It is against these criteria,
for each element of competence, that a candidate for that unit
is assessed. To give you some idea of the amount of work carried
by the working groups, keep in mind that each of the three elements
of competence described here, in the example being discussed,
will each have several associated performance criteria. This
is repeated for each of the other units of competence and each
of their elements of competence. There are other features such
as range statements and a description of some of the evidence
that may be required to prove competence. These are not discussed
in this presentation.
There is also a description
of the essential knowledge required to carry out the work activity
During the standards development
process the proposed standards, developed by the working groups,
are exposed to sector-wide consultation throughout the forensic
science community in the United Kingdom. This gives everyone
the opportunity to comment on the standards and to make suggestions
for their modification. The feedback from consultation is considered
by the working group and acted upon where appropriate. This creates
a feeling of ownership by the sector.
When all the units of competence,
elements of competence, performance criteria knowledge, and other
features are complete for a particular subject area, they are
aggregated into qualifications with a series of units of competence
constituting a complete qualification. However, each unit of
competence is in itself a mini qualification, so it is possible
to be assessed and certificated in specific units of competence,
thereby offering a flexible modular pathway to competence. This
modular flexibility may suit some organizational and individual
needs better than a full vocational qualification.
The newly proposed qualification
is now ready for national accreditation and is submitted to an
organization independent of the forensic science community, which
for England and Wales is the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority
(QCA). The qualification is submitted through the National Training
Organization and a chosen external accrediting bodywhich,
in the case of the forensic science sector in the United Kingdom,
is the Open Universitythat is independent of any influence
by the forensic science sector but offers specialist accreditation
and other services needed for the competence assessment program.
Once accredited, the qualification becomes available on the open
Every five years the standards
will be reviewed to test their currency, and a system is in place
to ensure that any changes to working practices within the five-year
period are identified and addressed immediately so there is little
chance of out-of-date standards remaining in place.
Assessment of Competence
I now turn to the assessment
of individual performance. In the early days of the standards
development program there was a very formal way of writing standards.
Now we are able to experiment and develop much more user-friendly
formats so long as all the essential ingredients required for
the assessment of competence are included. We are currently working
on new methods of standards presentation that will be published
There is scope for many organizations,
both national and international, to become involved and help
to build on that which has already been achieved and thereby
play a role in the process in these formative years.
The standards in their entirety
reflect both the knowledge required to do the job and the ability
to carry out the tasks associated with the job in a work environment.
Both of these requirements demand a very versatile, but rigorous
I have no intention of developing
the next point in this paper but it must be said that qualifications
are offered at a variety of levels from Level 1 to Level 5: Level
1 reflecting the more straightforward tasks with a requirement
for the possession of very little underpinning knowledge, and
Level 5 where we are looking at performance at the very highest
professional level with the application of fundamental principles
and knowledge to situations that may never have been previously
encountered and may never be encountered again. I know of no
other process that does this. If we are to do justice to our
profession, we need to articulate these issues clearly.
The assessment of the essential
underpinning knowledge, which is expressed in the standards developed
by the working groups, can be through traditional written examinations.
The Forensic Science Service, on behalf of the sector in the
United Kingdom, is appraising the use of the American Board of
Criminalistics (ABC) examinations, or some modified form of them,
for the assessment of knowledge.
Other examinations by the
University of Strathclyde, University of Durham with the National
Training Centre for Scientific Support for Crime Investigation,
the Metropolitan Police Service Scientific Support College in
London with Kings College University of London, and the various
Diplomas of the Forensic Science Society and others are also
being appraised for their value in the assessment of knowledge.
As a trial for the feasibility
of using the ABC examinations, an examination was recently held
in the United Kingdom under the auspices of the American Board
of Criminalistics and was successful. Further discussions on
collaboration are continuing, and proponents hope to present
a proposal from the ABC meeting in August this year for the implementation
of the ABC examination program in the United Kingdom, perhaps
under some form of license.
In time, these examinations
may find a use in Europe through the European Network of Forensic
Science Institutes (ENFSI). In our possible collaboration with
ABC, we also see the ABC's potential use in some form of a model
based on the one used in the United Kingdom to assess workplace
competence to complement the ABC written examinations.
Assessment of workplace ability
is another matter and, at first sight, appears more difficult
than the assessment of knowledge, which in itself does not necessarily
say a great deal about the ability of an individual to carry
out a work activity. The assessor will need to see evidence from
the work of the candidate to prove competence against the agreed
standards. It is this evidence of competence that is identified
by the candidate and that is appraised by the assessor against
the standards. An assessor will give one of two possible verdicts
on the performance of a candidate: Either the candidate is competent
now or not yet. There will be no degrees of competence such as
80% competent or 50% competent.
Assessors are competent practitioners
in their own right, and in addition to this occupational competence,
they are suitably qualified to carry out the assessment process.
The occupational competence of assessors is a vital requirement.
You will have noticed that
the standards are written in a very general manner. In the example
we have been using (Marks and Impressions), the Element of Competence
1.1 is given as "determine case requirements and provide
advice on investigation." Neither this nor the associated
performance criteria says anything specific about how this should
be done. It will be the responsibility of the occupationally
competent assessor to ensure that it is done to the standards
The quality management of
the assessment process will address any shortfall in practices.
In other words absolute standards, the details of how work is
carried out, are not imposed by some external body, and that
is one of the reasons why the process has the potential for universal
application. In some sectors in the United Kingdom there are
examples where the assessment process and its quality management
have shown that organizations are not working to appropriate
standards. The outcome has been to raise the standards of such
organizations and individuals in a user-friendly manner, almost
a form of self-regulation.
Assessors may be either internal
or external to the candidates' organization. The concept of an
assessor being internal to the organization, a workplace colleague
of the candidate, often attracts some criticism when first encountered.
However, a knowledge of the quality management of the assessment
process will go some way to putting this concern to rest.
Assessors collect evidence
of competence from the candidates' work. Part of this evidence
comes from cases a candidate has worked on in the recent past
or is currently working on. The source of the evidence of competence
is documented by the candidate in what is known as a portfolio
of evidence of competence. It may, in the most part, be documented
as an audit trail for the assessor to follow, enabling the assessor
to check back through the work presented as evidence against
the achievement of a standard of performance. The assessor will
look for evidence of competent performance over a period of time
and not simply at a snapshot of one piece of evidence on one
It is permissible to use
realistic simulations where evidence cannot be gained from real
work situations. Simulations are, however, the exception and,
even when used, must be in the work environment, and competent
performance must be demonstrated over time, not simply once.
This may still leave some room for concern in the use of internal
It has been said that if
the assessor has played a role in the training of the candidate,
it may be in the assessor's interest to show that the individual
is competent as a result of training. However, there is an assessment
verification process both internal and external that addresses
The internal verification
system will be carried out by someone from the sector who will
visit assessment sites, which will be the workplaces of the candidates,
on a spot-check basis to test whether the assessor has used real
evidence of competence against the standards and not simply used
a tick-box approach to assessment. This process will also help
ensure that the rigour of assessments, on what could be geographically
isolated sites, is consistent.
The rigour is supported by
an external verification process where the external verifier
is appointed by the awarding body, the Open University in the
case of forensic science, and is independent of the sector. The
external verifier will carry out a similar role to the internal
verifier but with a more obvious measure of independence. Neither
the external verifier nor the internal verifier will carry out
assessments or reassessments of candidates but will be concerned
with ensuring that the assessment process is adhered to and that
the evidence of competence collected is valid proof of consistent
The assessment of ongoing
competence can be carried out through a similar process, always
against the relevant standards and often through a system called
assessment through prior experience and learning.
The process of assessment
that has been described is well-established in many organizations
other than forensic science, a sector that is a comparative newcomer
to the process. It is encouraging to see how well the process
works once it is given a fair trial and to see how, in time,
it becomes comfortably established in the culture of the organization
as part of the quality management process and not as an annoying
addition to the daily burden. If the standards are right, the
evidence required to prove competence will simply fall from the
work activity. Assessors will never encourage candidates to fit
the standards to the activity but rather to fit the activity
to the standards.
Occupational Standards and
Another valuable use to which
organizations and sectors have put standards is in the design
of effective and efficient training programs. Training designers
now, probably for the first time, have a meaningful description
of what a sector requires of its employees in terms of performance,
and some sectors that have been using the scheme for some time
have found that their training budget has been dramatically reduced
and the speed with which their staff achieves the defined and
agreed competence levels has increased.
This is an important point.
It rightly implies that training is a means to an end and not
an end in itself. The end point of training is a competent individual.
The outcome, not the process, of training is important. We are
now able to measure the competence of practitioners and therefore
we are able to check whether we have reached our end point. Sounds
very much like what Kirk was suggesting we needed to address
more than 35 years ago.
Progress to Date
In the United Kingdom the
standards development program continues. To date the following
standards have been developed or are in various stages of development:
- Marks and Impressions
- Blood and Body Fluids
- Questioned Documents
- Recovery of Evidential MaterialLaboratory
- Investigating Scenes of
- Providing Fingerprint Services
- Managing and Coordinating
Scenes of Incidents
- Accident Investigation
- Fires and Explosions
- Firearms Examinations
- Trace Evidence (glass, paint,
explosives residues, fibres)
Each qualification covers
the complete forensic process from examination of the scene of
the incident through laboratory examination, interpretation of
findings, report writing, and the presentation of evidence in
National Training Organizations
An organization called the
National Training Organization has been mentioned, and I would
like to take a little time to elaborate on that and to bring
into the discussion some other parts of an infrastructure that
is now in place in the United Kingdom to support the ongoing
development of standards and other associated processes.
Several years ago there was
an unmanageable proliferation of bodies concerned nationally
with training, education, standards development, and associated
activities. I will not elaborate on these bodies here because
they are now mostly redundant. Their valuable work, however,
goes on in a more efficient manner, and I will take a little
time to describe briefly how this is.
The amalgamation of over
200 bodies throughout the United Kingdom has led to a new and
more streamlined structure of about 60 bodies for carrying out
the tasks associated with training, education, standards development,
and other work. In forensic science the key organization is the
Science Technology and Mathematics Council National Training
Organization. This organization looks after the training and
education affairs of the forensic science sector. It embraces
most of the specialist technical and professional sectors in
the scientific domain and is a key body in the United Kingdom.
It is chaired by a prominent academic and industrialist, Professor
Sir Geoffrey Allen. The scope of the organization is wide, and
it is concerned strategically with the whole spectrum of vocational
education and training for the sectors that it represents, which
includes the forensic science sector.
Through its alliance with
the Science Technology and Mathematics Council National Training
Organization, the forensic science sector has formed a Forensic
Science Sector Committee. This committee is the decision-making
forum for the sector. It comprises members with key employment
interests and also those with a national interest in the provision
of vocational education and training. The chairman of the Forensic
Science Sector Committee is Dr. Bob Bramley who is the Chief
Scientist and Head of Profession for the FSS, and through his
position as chairman of the sector committee, he is also a member
of the Science Technology and Mathematics Council Executive Committee.
The Executive Committee is responsible for shaping and forming
the policies, programs, and priorities of the council; reviewing
program implementation, management, and quality control; and
endorsing occupational standards and vocational qualifications
within the sector.
The prime committee, or governing
body, of the Science Technology and Mathematics National Training
Organization is the Council. The tasks of this body are to oversee
all of the activities of the National Training Organization and
to approve budgets. However, its primary role is political rather
than operational. It will be concerned with the wider view of
science education and training, and it will provide an interface
with the government at the highest levels. Representation here
is at the highest level, and the Chief Executive of the FSS,
Dr. Janet Thompson, is the Forensic Science Sector Council member.
Council for the Registration
of Forensic Practitioners
I now turn to the work presently
taking place in the United Kingdom to establish a Council for
the Registration of Forensic Practitioners. The aim of the Registration
Council is to engender and maintain public confidence in the
use of forensic science by producing a register of forensic science
practitioners who are recognized as competent in their areas
of expertise and who work to the highest professional and ethical
Under this project, trials
are taking place in chosen subject areas to assess the competence
of practitioners to be included on the register. This exercise
is at present restricted to the subject areas of fingerprints,
questioned documents, and DNA. Some of the processes I have described
are being evaluated to assess their suitability for this purpose.
Another working group within
the remit of the council is looking at courtroom competences.
The latest working group to be established is considering the
establishment of a code of ethics and disciplinary procedures.
We now see as a possible
way toward international cooperation with the vision that one
day we, in this demanding profession, are all supporting each
other's efforts to deliver best practice to support our various
In the United Kingdom, increasingly
we are becoming involved in collaboration with our European colleagues.
In support of this, European funding has recently been secured
to develop standards of performance and assessment protocols
for those working in the management and coordination of the activities
of scientific support personnel at the crime scene. This work
will be based, in part, upon the work already completed in the
United Kingdom and should set a precedent for increased collaboration
and harmonization of standards of performance and the assessment
of workplace competences throughout Europe and perhaps in other
I have offered an overview
of the work we are currently engaged on in the United Kingdom
to improve the service we offer through ensuring the continued
personal competence of those working in forensic science. Before
concluding let me take a moment to elaborate on how the process
offers flexibility of use. Standards, as we have seen, are designed
on a unit basis, each unit being in itself a mini qualification.
One unit comprising several elements. Each element comprising
several performance criteria with associated knowledge.
In some organizations, for
example the FSS, the workforce operates on two levels: At one
level are technical experts who carry out the work, and at the
other level are those who take the responsibility for the management
of the work, carry out interpretation, report findings, and present
evidence to courts of law, in other words reporting officers.
In such a scheme the reporting officer will not necessarily need
to be competent in doing the work but will need to know how it
is done. Hence our interest in knowledge-based examinations.
The nascent council for the
Registration of Forensic Practitioners is concerned with the
standards of performance of those who report cases. However,
the flexibility of implementation is such that, if in an organization
one person does the work and that same person reports on the
work, then that person will need the competence to work in addition
to the knowledge to satisfy the requirements for that organization.
The process described will support this.
I mentioned national vocational
qualifications. It now seems likely that the sector in the United
Kingdom will not go for full national vocational qualifications
but will use the principles on which they are based to design
a more appropriate product. Work is well advanced along those
lines. The principles we are using are based on the national
vocational qualifications program and have been endorsed by the
Sector Committee, that is to develop and agree on occupational
standards and to assess individuals against the standards incorporating
some form of external monitoring in the competence assessment
process. The standards are also useful as a focus for training
and as the basis of a route not only of continuing professional
development but also to ensure the ongoing competence of practitioners.
I will leave you with yet
another quote from Kirk: "Criminalistics is an occupation
that has all the responsibility of medicine, the intricacy of
the law, and the universality of science. Inasmuch as it carries
higher penalties for error than other professions, it is not
a matter to take lightly nor to trust to luck."
I look forward to continuing
Kirk, P. L. The ontogeny
of criminalistics, Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology, and
Police Science (1963) 54:235.
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FORENSIC SCIENCE COMMUNICATIONS JULY 1999 VOLUME
1 NUMBER 2