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Using the Likelihood Ratio in Bloodstain Pattern Analysis

Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences
Published: 2021
Primary Author: Daniel Attinger
Secondary Authors: Kris De Brabanter, Christophe Champod

There is an apparent paradox that the likelihood ratio (LR) approach is an appropriate measure of the weight of evidence when forensic findings have to be evaluated in court, while it is typically not used by bloodstain pattern analysis (BPA) experts. This commentary evaluates how the scope and methods of BPA relate to several types of evaluative propositions and methods to which LRs are applicable. As a result of this evaluation, we show how specificities in scope (BPA being about activities rather than source identification), gaps in the underlying science base, and the reliance on a wide range of methods render the use of LRs in BPA more complex than in some other forensic disciplines. Three directions are identified for BPA research and training, which would facilitate and widen the use of LRs: research in the underlying physics; the development of a culture of data sharing; and the development of training material on the required statistical background. An example of how recent fluid dynamics research in BPA can lead to the use of LR is provided. We conclude that an LR framework is fully applicable to BPA, provided methodic efforts and significant developments occur along the three outlined directions.

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