Putting the Science into Forensic Science

Published on 19 April 2019

The University of Dundee’s Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science (LRCFS) is tasked with ‘disrupting positively’ forensic science

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"There is great concern that the science underpinning much of the forensic evidence that appears in court is lacking a robust scientific foundation" said Professor Niamh Nic Daeid, who leads the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science at the University of Dundee. "Our work, in collaboration with colleagues from across forensic science, law enforcement, legal colleagues, industry leaders and academic researchers, is to work together to address the scientific deficiencies that the practitioner community highlight.

"LRCFS is a ten-year, £10 million project financed by the Leverhulme Trust. Since funding was awarded in 2016, an interdisciplinary team of scientists and non-scientists have been brought together to develop innovative ways of looking at the challenges facing forensic scientific evidence as it is currently used within our courts.

The team is agile in its approach, bringing their skills to the challenges in a unique way. They engage with public and schools audiences to generate new ideas and gather research data through citizen science. When external forensic science, law enforcement or legal input is required, this is brought into the project either through a bespoke ‘strategic conversation’ hosted at LRCFS, or the secondment of world leaders in the field through LRCFS fellowships.

The main areas where LRCFS are currently focusing their work are around the resolution of complex mixed DNA samples, the transfer, persistence and background abundance of trace evidence, the evolution of crime scene examination in the digital world and the understanding of digital evidence and its implications across the criminal justice sector from the crime scene to the court room.

"Two years into the project and we are already creating positive disruption with our interdisciplinary, collaborative way of working and our focus on creativity and science communication which is the cornerstone to the provision of forensic evidence within the courts," explains Professor Nic Daeid.

"We have created an exciting, interdisciplinary bright spot, both within the University and across our ecosystem, where it is positively encouraged to speak plainly, amongst friends and colleagues whose only motivation is to make a positive difference. Only when we can honestly articulate our challenges can we start to come up with the solutions."

“The Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science is about thinking and working differently, often in a totally innovative way, to resolve the challenges we face around one of the most important uses of science – serving the justice system. ”

Professor Niamh Nic Daeid


Press Office, University of Dundee

Story category Research