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Mardia Prize 2023: Interdisciplinary workshops in Statistics and the Law

The Mardia Prize was founded by RSS fellow Kanti Mardia, OBE, to ensure that the tradition he started of workshops which brought statisticians together with other academics and professionals in emerging interdisciplinary areas.

Professor Jane L Hutton, the winner of the 2023 Mardia Prize, will lead a team in organising a series of four workshops.

The team is:

Prof Julia Mortera, Università Roma Tre
Dr Amy Wilson, University of Edinburgh
Neil MacKenzie KC, Arnot Manderson Advocates, Edinburgh.
Dr Linda Nichols, University of Warwick
Dr Gail Robertson, University of Edinburgh
Prof Richard Gill (Emeritus), Leiden University

Background and purpose:

Statistics is widely used in expert reports for criminal and civil cases. It is also relevant to better understanding
and operation of the justice system, and the prevention and detection of crime. The Royal Statistical Society (RSS) Statistics and the Law section was founded in 2015. Section members have collaborated with judges, barristers, the Forensic Science Regulator and the Royal Societies (London and Edinburgh) on several statistical guides.
There is scope for further work, particularly in areas other than providing expert opinions for the courts. There will be series of workshops. The views and perceived needs of participants in the legal system, including representatives of the police, the probation service, the Ministry of Justice as well as academic and practising lawyers will be sought. Statistical methods, including statistical design, which address questions raised by legal processes will be explored. The scope of this workshop series is limited. Many areas, for example, financial crimes and financial regulation, cannot be addressed.
One major barrier to increased statistical contributions is the scarcity of statistical data scientists. Ensuring
attendance of earlier career statisticians who might advance the field is important. Development of training
material for statisticians and continuing professional development material for forensic practitioners is a further
opportunity to benefit society.

The proposed workshops are:
Probabilistic decision making tools:

Police procedures and predictive policing, sourcing evidence, Forensic Science Regulator and European Network of
Forensic Science Institutes (ENFSI) guidelines for reporting forensic evidence; ENFSI audit template for forensic reports.

Understanding of legal systems:

Knowledge of justice system users, their interactions across the criminal, family and civil courts and
their needs, pathways and outcomes. Aspects of linking administrative datasets from the justice system and
public services. Factors influencing recording of administrative data.

Algorithms in justice system:

Fairness, effectiveness and efficiency of algorithms in legals systems. Definitions of bias, transparency and explainability
of decisions. Good practice in development and evaluation of statistical and machine learning algorithms, including
design of randomised studies for evaluation.

Personal injury and medico-legal issues in civil litigation:

Evaluation of risks of medical treatments and vaccinations; long-term health outcomes after medical,
industrial and traffic injuries. Brief comparison with medico-legal issues in criminal cases.