This was a question discussed at the Evidence in Motion conference organized by the projects Digital DNA and Evidently Rape. A dialogue between the social and the forensic sciences was intense, but fruitful.
(c) Maud Hol, IKRS
Police officers, sociologists, forensic and medical scientists met to discuss the journey of evidence through the law enforcement system. After 1.5 days of presentations a roundtable on the facts and futures of evidence yielded some first results:
There was a common understanding that honesty and trustworthiness across disciplines would not only have to be reflected in language, but also needs to take account of the different values, beliefs, aims and ethics tied to each profession. Here, being able to ask the right questions can improve communication across different fields when one part may not be trained professionally.
The probabilistic nature of forensic results (and the sense of uncertainty that comes with it) needs to be more pronounced when outcomes are communicated. This point also ties in with the role of technologies. It is crucial to reflect upon unintended societal consequences of forensic technologies at an early stage, also to avoid a drift from concrete societal and juridical problems to abstract problems concerning technological solutions. Similarly, the discussion about the present and future of evidence should not loose view of the concrete, of the human beings that are a part of the process. This includes professionals, but also those targeted by technologies as well as victims.
How to continue? Keep communicating. There are funding systems in place that can be used to ensure discussions can be fostered.