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The likelihood ratio as value of evidence—more than a question of numbers
Linköping University, Department of Computer and Information Science, Statistics. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Statens Kriminaltekniska Laboratorium, Linköping.
2012 (English)In: Law, Probability and Risk, ISSN 1470-8396, E-ISSN 1470-840X, Vol. 11, 303-315 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The ability of the experienced forensic scientist to evaluate his or her results given the circumstances and propositions in a particular case and present this to the court in a clear and concise way is very important for the legal process. Court officials can neither be expected to be able to interpret scientific data, nor is it their task to do so (in our opinion). The duty of the court is rather to perform the ultimate evidence evaluation of all the information in the case combined, including police reports, statements from suspects and victims, witness reports forensic expert statements, etc. Without the aid of the forensic expert, valuable forensic results may be overlooked or misinterpreted in this process. The scientific framework for forensic interpretation stems from Bayesian theory. The resulting likelihood ratio, which may be expressed using a verbal or a numerical scale, compares how frequent are the obtained results given that one of the propositions holds with how frequent  they are given that the other proposition holds. A common misunderstanding is that this approach must be restricted to forensic areas such as DNA evidence where extensive background information is present in the form of comprehensive databases. In this article we argue that the approach with likelihood ratios is equally applicable in areas where the results rely on scientific background data combined with the knowledge and experience of the forensic scientist. In such forensic areas the scale of the likelihood ratio may be rougher compared to a DNA case, but the information that is conveyed by the likelihood ratio may     nevertheless be highly valuable for the court.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Vol. 11, 303-315 p.
Keyword [en]
forensic interpretation, Bayes' theorem, logical approach, evidence value, likelihood, assessment
National Category
Probability Theory and Statistics Law and Society
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-79770DOI: 10.1093/lpr/mgs019OAI: diva2:544272
Available from: 2012-08-14 Created: 2012-08-14 Last updated: 2015-02-18

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