Statistics and the Law
The Section started in 2015. It evolved from a working group of the same name set up in the early 2000s when the Society wrote to the Lord Chancellor and made a statement setting out concerns around the case of Sally Clark and miscalculation of the probability of two cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in a family.
The purpose of the Section is to enable the Society to make informed and influential contributions to the administration of justice as well as encouraging research and disseminating knowledge amongst the statistical, legal, forensic science and forensic medicine communities. The remit includes civil law as well as criminal law.
The group has produced four law practitioner guides, sponsored by the Nuffield Foundation, for judges, lawyers, forensic scientists and expert witnesses.
In 2017, the Section produced a Statistics and Probability guide for advocates with the Inns of Court College of Advocacy.
The Section has also produced a Summary of Guides on the available documents and guidelines that have been produced to assist legal and forensic practitioners in the interpretation of forensic evidence; including details on which organisations have endorsed the guides.
In September 2022, the Statistics and the Law Section Committee released a report, ‘Healthcare serial killer or coincidence? Statistical issues in investigation of suspected medical misconduct’.
This report was prompted by concerns about the statistical challenges such cases pose for the legal system. It is intended to help all professionals involved in investigating such cases and those who evaluate such cases in the legal system, including expert witnesses.
A summary version of the report is also available.
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