Fundamentals of statistical evidence—a primer for legal professionals

Colin Aitken, Franco Taroni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Criminal courts are today frequently confronted with statistical evidence, notably in relation to DNA profiling. Recent experience tends to confirm both widespread perceptions and more systematic research indicating that probability and statistics are not handled confidently, or always competently, by lawyers, judges, jurors or even by forensic scientists. Conceived as a primer for legal professionals, this article reviews basic statistical terminology and its forensic applications, and explores the options for presenting statistical information to fact-finders effectively. In raising awareness of the issues and by encouraging improved comprehension of probability and statistics amongst legal and forensic science professionals, we aim to contribute directly to the administration of justice by promoting more successful applications of forensic statistics in legal adjudication.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-207
Number of pages27
JournalThe International Journal of Evidence and Proof
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008


  • Evaluation of evidence
  • Likelihood ratio
  • Presentation in court
  • Probability
  • statistics


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