Some forensic statisticians are employed by forensic science units specifically to analyse forensic data. There are also some researchers who specialise in carrying out statistical research on forensic matters and act as consultant forensic statisticians when required.
What does a forensic statistician do?
One example of casework that a forensic statistician may be involved with is DNA profiling. Considerable work has been done in statistical and population genetics in assessing the importance of such evidence.
An important part of being a forensic statistician is the ability to communicate results effectively to non-statisticians. Forensic statisticians may be required to attend court cases as expert witnesses. This involves reporting calculated probabilities or other statistical measures to the jury and explaining to them how the calculations were performed.
Take a look at our profile of forensic statistician Colin Aitken to learn more.
What qualifications do I need?
The main route into forensic statistics is essentially the same as an academic, either as a university lecturer or specifically as a researcher. You would probably need to gain a lecturing or research post in a mathematics or statistics university department, and then pursue a research or consultancy path as part of your day-to-day work there.
How do I find a job as a forensic statistician?
The Forensic Science Service (FSS) of England and Wales has an interpretation group which considers problems of evidence evaluation. If the FSS needs assistance, it employs consultants.
The Home Office has a policing and reducing crime unit offering occasional contract work for statisticians to assist projects. Individual police forces and law firms may also seek assistance with cases.
Any advertisements might appear in several places, including the following:
- Daily newspapers (The Times, The Guardian and The Independent are probably the best).
- Electronic mailing lists (such as Allstat).
- New Scientist
What are the career prospects of a forensic statistician?
The area of DNA profiling is also growing. Although not strictly forensic statistics, there may be opportunities for statisticians in companies specialising in the analysis of DNA profiles for paternity and kinship testing.