Competency, Education, Research, Testing,
Accreditation, and Innovation in Forensic Science (CERTAIN-FORS)

The EU Vision for European Forensic Science 2020 with the creation of a European Forensic Science
Area (EFSA 2020) has been a key initiative over many years, promoting cooperation between EU
Member States. ENFSI has been a vital player in delivering relevant actions and is currently discussing
a follow-on, broad EU initiative post-2020. This remains critical, because forensic science retains an
increasing part in combatting cross-border crime (e.g. terrorism, people trafficking, organised crime).
The CERTAIN-FORS project represents further steps towards the developmental areas identified in the
EFSA action plans. Specific forensic areas being addressed are accreditation, education & competency,
innovation & research, and testing. The work involves the collaboration of expert teams from the ENFSI
community with 11 specific activities (with the general aims highlighted):

 

  • UNLOCK- fUNdamentaL fOrensiC Knowledge (Training in basic forensic concepts)
  • Development of E-Learning Concept Phase 2 (Training for textile experts)
  • Training and competence assessment for Forensic Handwriting Experts (Training for handwritingexperts)
  • Establishment of a Trace DNA Transfer Rate Repository & Bayes Net to Calculate LRs (Understandingthe transfer of DNA)
  • App Analyses and Reference Database Solution (Investigating the origins of mobile deviceinformation)
  • Forensic Multilingual Voices Database (Developing speaker identification methodology)
  • Development of a New PT on the Interpretation of GSR Findings (Improving quality of gunshotresidue work)
  • Multidisciplinary Proficiency Test and Collaborative Exercises in Forensics (Improving quality when examining several evidence types on an exhibit)
  • Benchmarking of Proficiency Tests for the Fingerprint Domain (Developing PTs for fingerprint work)
  • Fingerprint WG Best Practice Manual 2nd Ed. (Updating the current fingerprint BPM)
  • European Day – Dissemination Event (Promoting EU funded forensic collaboration over the lastdecade)

Forensic science continues to play an ever-increasing role in the investigation and prosecution of crime
whilst the impact of cross-border criminality (organised crime, people trafficking, terrorism etc) means
that forensic cooperation across international borders continues to gain importance. This is relevant for
operational forensic experts working in forensic science laboratories, but it is also of major significance
to the law enforcement stakeholders (police and judiciary) who rely upon forensic science in their work
across Europe. Common forensic approaches mean that police operations in one country can
confidently make use of forensic information generated in different countries. The same principle
applies with the use of forensic information to support courtroom prosecutions.

 

The EU has recognised the importance of harmonising forensic practices across all Member States. The
first step was the publication of Council Conclusions in 2011 proposing the creation of a European
Forensic Science Area linked with the Vision for European Forensic Science 2020 (EU Council
Conclusions, 3135th Justice and Home Affairs Council in Brussels, 13th/14th December 2011). This
contained a set of ten wide-ranging objectives. Further Council Conclusions were published in 2016 (EU
Council Conclusions and Action Plan on the way forward in view of the creation of a European Forensic
Science Area, 3473rd Justice and Home Affairs Council in Brussels, 9th June 2016). This new document
included a detailed action plan covering six specific areas:

 

1. Best Practice Manuals for forensic disciplines.
2. Stimulating exchange of forensic information from databases, for example in the area of weapons
and ammunition, explosives and drugs.
3. Proficiency tests and collaborative exercises for forensic disciplines.
4. Forensic awareness and training for law enforcement and justice communities.
5. Stimulate accreditation of forensic service providers and competence of forensic personnel on a
voluntary basis.
6. Stimulating exchange of forensic data via Prϋm and improving quality.

 

Previous EU Direct Action Grants awarded to ENFSI have been used to move towards the specific aims
of the EU Vision for European Forensic Science 2020:

 

  • “Towards European Forensic Standardisation through Best Practice Manuals, TEFSBPM
    HOME/2012/ISEC/MO/ENFSI/4000004278”
  • “Towards the Vision for European Forensic Science 2020, TVEFS-2020
    HOME/2013/ISEC/MO/ENFSI/4000005962”
  • “Towards the Development of Pan-European Databases in Forensic Science, TDPEDFS
    HOME/2014/ISFP/AG/ENFS/7822”
  • “Steps Towards a European Forensic Science Area, STEFA
    ISFP-2016-AG-IBA-ENFSI”
  • “Accreditation of Forensic Laboratories in Europe, AFORE
    ISFP-2018-AG-IBA-ENFSI”

The new CERTAIN-FORS Project retains this focus and includes 11 specific activities that address the
diverse areas that the EU has highlighted as the key work areas needed to create the European
Forensic Science Area. These activities have been selected by the ENFSI Board as work streams that
will have a significant impact across the European forensic community. These specific areas are
accreditation, education & competency, innovation & research, and testing.

 

CERTAIN-FORS will be another steppingstone in the realisation of the European Forensic Science Area
2020. Much progress in that direction has been made over recent years however, much remains to be
done. Of particular relevance is the ever-changing nature of forensic science with advances in technical
capability. Thus, ENFSI is currently taking actions within the forensic community to promote a follow-
on, broad initiative to continue the development of European forensic science post-2020. This remains
critical, because forensic science will continue to play a major role for the police and judiciary in the
years ahead and, thereby, contribute to the delivery of security and justice to the populations of the EU
Member States.

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