Judges to receive training from scientists on dealing with scientific evidence in court

A number of scientists are collaborating to help teach senior judges about dealing with scientific evidence in court. The training is part of a scheme announced by the Royal Society and Royal Society of Edinburgh.

The scheme, which has the backing of Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the lord chief justice of England and Wales, will launch with a ‘primer document’ covering DNA analysis. It is designed as a plain English description of various topics including the limitations of the science, difficulties with its application and an explanation of how the scientific area is used within the judicial system.

The project had its origins in a 2011 report on neuroscience and the law, which highlighted the lack of a forum in the UK for scientists, lawyers and judges to explore areas of mutual interest. “The launch of this project is the realisation of an idea the judiciary has been seeking to achieve,” said Lord Thomas. 

Julie Maxton, executive director of the Royal Society, added: “We are very pleased to be playing a leading role in bringing together scientists and the judiciary throughout the UK to ensure that we get the best possible scientific guidance into the courts - rigorous, accessible science matters to the justice system and society.”

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