Forensic Intelligence: increasing the value of science to justice

How can past criminal case data help justice today and in the future?

ESR’s Forensic Intelligence project is currently developing ways to enhance the value of forensic science to the justice system.  The six month pilot project is a collaboration between ESR’s Jeff Foote and Graeme Nicholas (Risk and Response Group), and Dion Sheppard (Forensic Business Group). It will initially focus on sexual violence case data and involves developing methodologies that can be applied across all case types. 

“The anonymous dataset we’re working with is complex and extensive, covering five years of casework: complaints, investigation, prosecution, victim feedback and conviction. In order to obtain a complete picture, we have partnered with AUT’s Computer Science department to apply big data analytics to ESR forensic casework data and Ministry of Justice data,” said Dion.

“This will identify patterns and trends that might otherwise be lost within the sheer volume of data. It can also illuminate other informative insights into the relationships between science and the justice system.”

The project will specifically look at how justice outcomes are assessed and, what “better outcomes” really mean and to whom. It will also look at the critical stages in a criminal investigation where forensic science expertise is involved and, the necessary contributing conditions to achieve better justice outcomes e.g. using forensic science earlier in an investigation.

“That’s why it’s not just the data itself that we will be looking at. We will also be working closely with policy, justice, police and sexual violence response stakeholders. Together, we will identify problems and assess how data analytics of forensic case data can help offer solutions to these problems,” said Jeff.

Ultimately, the project will develop forensic intelligence to assist in the future prevention and solving of crime. The hope is that these methodologies will be applied to other casework across the country.

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