The accuracy of crime scene forensic identification is currently under intense, world-wide scrutiny from mainstream science, government, legal institutions, and the media. ‘CSI’ style TV shows give the impression that fingerprint identification is fully automated. In reality, when a fingerprint is found at a crime scene, it is a human examiner who is faced with the task of identifying the person who left it. The problem is that, even though fingerprints have been used in criminal courts for more than 100 years, research into forensic decision making is just beginning to emerge. Several recent reviews of forensic evidence have been conducted by pre-eminent scientific organisations, criticising the field for implausible explanations, unreliable techniques, inconsistent training practices, and insensitivity to scientific research. This session will focus on latent fingerprint evidence and explain some of the problems with contemporary practices and challenges in establishing an empirical basis for training and assessing perceptual expertise.

Jason Tangen is an Associate Professor in the School of Psychology at The University of Queensland. His research cuts across several domains from radiology to rationality, fingerprint matching to face recognition, and he collaborates with a broad range of industry partners (e.g., Reserve Bank of Australia, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Federal Police). In 2014, he offered a free online course called The Science of Everyday Thinking, which has attracted more than 400,000 enrolments. Jason is currently leading a team of legal, medical, and forensic researchers in The Forensic Reasoning Project to study the nature of expertise in identification to improve training and the value of expert testimony.


Sir Harry Gibbs Moot Court (W247)
Forgan Smith Building
The University of Queensland