Statistics and the law

Our Statistics and the Law Section aims to improve understanding and use of statistics in the administration of justice. The Section links us to legal, scientific and justice communities.

The Section aims to:

  • Promote discussion within the statistical community of the application of statistical and probabilistic reasoning to forensic problems
  • Encourage discussion within the forensic science and forensic medicine communities, particularly in relation to expert witnesses evidence
  • Promote the research and development of statistical and probabilistic reasoning in a forensic context
  • Consider and report on issues concerning the use of statistics for standards in legislation

Any member of the statistical, legal or forensic scientific communities, and anyone else, who is interested in the work of the Section is welcome to our meetings.

Practitioner guides

From 2010 to 2014, a Statistics and the Law working group produced four practitioner guides on aspects of statistical evidence and probabilistic reasoning.

For more information and to download copies of the guides go to our practitioner guides page.


RESPONSE: to US National Commission on Forensic Science Recommendations regarding use of the term ‘Reasonable Scientific Certainty' (PDF) Submitted: April 2016
LETTER: from UK Forensic Science Regulator to RSS Statistics and the Law Section ‘Reporting analytical results against legal limits – drug driving’ (PDF)
Received: 27 October 2015
Response from Section Chair, Professor Colin Aitken (PDF)
Sent: 22 December 2015

RESPONSE: To the US National Commission on Forensic Science, on Ethics (PDF) and Scientific Certainty (PDF) Submitted: 14 May 2015

The case of Sally Clark

We decided to work on statistics and the law following a number of court cases where the interpretation of statistics has been of concern.

We wrote a letter to the Lord Chancellor in January 2002 setting out our concerns about the case of Sally Clark and miscalculation of the probability of two cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in a family.

For more information download the ‘Letter from the president to the Lord Chancellor regarding the use of statistical evidence in court cases’ (PDF).