WRITTEN ON July 20th, 2009 BY William Heath AND STORED IN Foundation of Trust, Official fibbing/bad stats, What do we want?

More criminologists have pointed out the poor statistical analysis behind the Home Office’s DNA database plans, says The Guardian:

“Flawed scientific thinking” in the government’s proposed changes to the DNA database will leave it open to further challenges by the courts, experts have said, in a stark attack on Home Office plans to overhaul the current system.

The proposals, set out as part of a government consultation after the existing DNA database was found in breach of human rights last year, are based on exaggerated scientific claims and ignore the realities of persistent offending, two leading criminologists have said. “There is a flaw in the scientific evidence that sustains the government’s argument,” said Keith Soothill, emeritus professor of social research at Lancaster University.

Meanwhile, there’s an interesting supportive comment on Ben’s blog for the professor behind the Jill Dando work

one of the cleverest, most literate and numerate crime scientists in the world. He was asked to do a quick response to help the Met and HMG respond to a European Court judgement, but he couldn’t get access to the proper data, and did some back of the envelope stuff as a first-draft background. He knew it was a mish-mash and set about doing some proper research (which has now, separately, been submitted to a peer reviewed journal). The Jill Dando Institute was asked by the HO if his notes could be published
as an Appendix, and in the name of openness they said yes. He has been grievously upset ever since – long before Ben’s review. Hence the irony: this is not a story of a bad scientist but a good egg and just the sort of person who would read Bad Science with relish.

So, as part of a self-correcting blogosphere, I retract the comment about inappropriate shroud-waving. I was cross that the memory of that innocent victim be used to offer spurious validity. But what seems to be emerging is that this is (as per our usual category) simply official fibbing/bad stats from Ho Moffiss, and the the Institute is as innocent as porr old Jill Dando was.

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