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Comparative Review Of Likelihood Ratio (Lr) And Probability Of Random Correspondence (Prc) As Statistical Tools For Fingerprint Evidence Evaluation

1563 words - 7 pages

The first time fingerprint comparison evidence was used in court against a defendant was in 1892 in Argentina [1]
For purposes of forensic identification in cases of law enforcement and other areas where human identification is needed, fingerprints have been widely acclaimed to be of an invaluable importance and has therefore seen a close to unanimous acceptance as the gold standard of forensic evidence where biometric identity is concerned. Recently however, as was rarely done in times past, the scientific foundations of fingerprint expert testimonies in court are beginning to be challenged [2]. There are some commentators who now query the scientific validity of forensic fingerprint identification. Reference has been made to the Daubert’s standard which stipulates the conditions for acceptability of expert testimony [1], where scientific methods and techniques employed must themselves be based on testable and falsifiable theories that have gone through the peer review process. These methods also must have known and/or predictable error rates and must comply with recognized standards relevant to their application.
These Daubert’s principles, as it has come to be known in the US since 1993, has gone beyond the American jurisdiction to influence the admissibility of expert testimony internationally. The UK Law commission recently prescribed similar standards in its expert evidence consultation paper in which it laid emphasis on the scientific method much more than falsifiability [3].
The ACE-V method that has been in use by fingerprint expert examiners (which has been the subject of controversy) has had several objections raised against them, some of which according to [2] are:

- the contextual bias that arises from the expert decisions within the ACE-V framework
- the groundless unfalsifiable theory of the discriminability of friction ridge skin features
- the absolute conclusions of fingerprint experts which is ‘unscientific’
Recent studies and publications in an attempt to answer the questions and objections raised about fingerprint evidence have proposed certain methods, two of which are the Probability of Random Correspondence (PRC) and Likelihood Ratio (LR). These methods hopefully can be used to introduce some quantitative statistical measures to the fingerprint evidence.
Before going into comparing both proposed statistical approaches, it would seem appropriate to take a brief look at the ACE-V method of fingerprint evidence analysis in the next section, to highlight areas where these proposed methods have advantages over it.
2. A brief description of the ACE-V Method
In ACE-V, ‘A’ stands for Analysis, ‘C’ stands for Comparison, ‘E’ represents Evaluation and ‘V’ is for Verification. These are the various stages involved in the examination of fingerprint evidence by experts in the field before arriving at a conclusion on a set of prints which can be in any of these three conclusions viz: Exclusion, Individuation, or...

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