Ian Evett was awarded with the first Distinguished Forensic Scientist Award in 2000, as leading author of a series of outstanding publications in the field of forensic science for 1997-1999, on a model of case assessment and interpretation, published in Sciences and Justice in 1998. The contribution of the co-authors R. Cook, G. Jackson, P.J. Jones and J.A. Lambert was also appreciated.
Originally a physics graduate, Dr. Ian Evett joined the Forensic Science Service (FSS) in 1966 at the Cardiff laboratory, where he worked as a document examiner. He soon became interested in the possibilities for carrying out quantitative measurements on handwriting and this inevitably led him to the study of statistics. He returned to university in 1972 to take a postgraduate course in mathematical statistics and operational research.
When he returned to forensic science he was transferred to the Birmingham laboratory where he managed the scanning electron microscopy section and soon became interested in a broad range of evidence types – particularly glass.
It was while he was working on the problems of taking account of phenomena such as transfer and persistence that he found, from the work of Dennis Lindley (1), the power of the Bayesian paradigm for inference in the presence of uncertainty. That work was later developed further in collaboration with John Buckleton (2), in particular. John was later to take glass interpretation much further in the book that he authored with Tacha Hicks and James Curran (3), which is the most comprehensive treatment of the subject to date.
During the 1980’s, Ian became increasingly involved in the statistics of DNA profiling, working with many other scientists, including Dave Werrett, Peter Gill, Lindsey Foreman and, again, John Buckleton. In 1998, he co-authored, with Bruce Weir, a text book on forensic DNA statistics (4).
In 1988, Ian was invited by Ray Williams, to join him in a review of the UK 16 points fingerprints standard. This resulted in recommendations for a National system of quality management for fingerprint bureaux (5).
Sometime later, Ian worked with Christophe Champod on a discussion of the potential for probabilistic opinions with regard to fingerprint comparisons (6); they also produced a critical review of the current status of knowledge with regard to earprint comparisons (7).
The degree of Doctor of Science was conferred on Ian in 1992 by the University of Strathclyde in recognition of his work on evidence interpretation within the context of forensic science.
In 1997, a new project was set up in the FSS called Case Assessment and Interpretation (CAI) with the aim of creating a logical scientific foundation for providing value for money to the Criminal Justice System. The original team members were Roger Cook, Phil Jones, Graham Jackson and Jim Lambert. The first phase of the work was the creation of a model for CAI: this was presented at the first European Academy conference in Lausanne and later published in Science and Justice (8). The second CAI paper established the notion of the “hierarchy of propositions” (9) and it was these two papers that were jointly cited in the European Academy award for the “outstanding publication in the field of forensic science for 1997-1999”. Later, Christophe Champod and Stella McCrossan joined the CAI team and other papers followed that developed CAI thinking (10, 11, 12).
Ian currently works as consultant to the Chief Scientist of the FSS (Bob Bramley). He advises on: statistical issues relating to the National DNA Database; validation and professional standards; logical and coherent methods for presenting scientific evidence; and CAI. He is particularly interested in the potential for the concepts of knowledge management in relation to the notion of forensic expertise. His interest in document examination continues and he is a regular participant in the Found and Rogers barrage tests for handwriting examiners.
- (1) Lindley DV. Probabilities and the law. In: Utility, Probability and Human Decision Making. Eds: Wendt D & Wlek CJ. Reidel, Dordrecht 1975.
- (2) Evett IW and Buckleton JS. Some aspects of the Bayesian approach to evidence evaluation. Journal of the Forensic Science Society 1989; 29: 317-324.
- (3) Curran JM, Hicks TN and Buckleton JS. Forensic Interpretation of Glass Evidence. CRC, Boca Raton 2000.
- (4) Evett IW and Weir BS. Interpreting DNA Evidence: Statistical Genetics for Forensic Scientist. Sinauer, Sunderland, MA 1998.
- (5) Evett IW and Williams RL. A review of the sixteen points fingerprint standard in England and Wales. Journal of Forensic Identification 1996; 46: 49-73.
- (6) Champod C and Evett IW. A probabilistic approach to fingerprint evidence. Journal of Forensic Identification 2001; 51: 101-122.
- (7) Champod C and Evett IW. Earprints as evidence: a critical review. Journal of Forensic Sciences. 2001; 46: 1275-1284.
- (8) Cook R, Evett IW, Jackson G, Jones PJ and Lambert JA. A model for case assessment and interpretation. Science and Justice 1998; 38; 151-156.
- (9) Cook R, Evett IW, Jackson G, Jones PJ and Lambert JA. A hierarchy of propositions: deciding which level to address in casework. Science and Justice 1998; 38: 231-239.
- (10) Cook R, Evett IW, Jackson G, Jones PJ and Lambert JA. Case assessment and review in a two-way transfer case. Science and Justice 1999; 39: 103-111.
- (11) Evett IW, Jackson G and Lambert JA. More on the hierarchy of propositions: exploring the distinction between explanations and propositions. Science and Justice 2000; 40: 3-10.
- (12) Evett IW, Jackson G, Lambert JA and McCrossan S. The impact of the principles of evidence interpretation on the structure and content of statements. Science and Justice. 2000; 40: 233-239.