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£650k funding secured for OU trust in forensic science psychology project

A Grayscale of a Lady Justice Figurine

A team led by The Open University (OU) has successfully secured a funding grant worth £657,922 for a project investigating trust in forensic science.

The project titled ‘Trust in forensic science evidence in the criminal justice system: The experience of marginalised groups’ sits within the OU’s School of Psychology & Counselling  and will run for one year starting 1 March 2024. This is a novel, interdisciplinary project to identify key touchpoints and influences where trust (and distrust) in forensic science arises amongst marginalised users of the Criminal Justice System. The result of the project will be the development of a tool to mitigate this distrust.

By exploring the perspectives and experiences of users when looking at DNA and digital evidence, the project will develop insights into how public understanding is shaped around the preparation, sharing, and presentation of forensic evidence, from crime scene to courtroom.

The aim is to examine whether understanding public levels of trust in forensic science can better inform how, when, and why scientific evidence is used in criminal justice procedures. The resulting tool and educational resources will help to investigate and improve public trust and understanding of forensic science evidence and the processes associated with its use.

Lara Frumkin, Head of Discipline of Psychology & Counselling at The Open University will be leading the project and working with investigators Heather Flowe, University of Birmingham, Maria Maclennan, University of Edinburgh, Niamh NicDaeid, University of Dundee, Vincent Hughes, University of York, Emmanuel Nsiah Amoako, University of the West of England, Emma Johnston, De Montfort University.

Speaking of the project Dr Frumkin said, “Forensic science was originally seen as a ground-breaking tool for aiding the investigation of crime, though it is now experiencing a crisis of credibility; government, policymakers, and academics acknowledge that trust and confidence in forensic science evidence is under threat. This project will establish levels of trust in forensic science evidence amongst both marginalised communities and comparison user groups, to mitigate mistrust through four specific objectives.”

Image insert: Pexel (c) EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA

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