Forensic laboratories should establish routine quality assurance and quality control procedures to ensure the accuracy of forensic analyses and the work of forensic practitioners. Quality control procedures should be designed to identify mistakes, fraud, and bias; confirm the continued validity and reliability of standard operating procedures and protocols; ensure that best practices are being followed; and correct procedures and protocols that are found to need improvement.
A number of forensic science organizations—such as AAFS, the Mid-western Association of Forensic Scientists, ASCLD, and NAME—have adopted codes of ethics. The codes that exist are sometimes comprehensive, but they vary in content. While there is no reason to doubt that many forensic scientists understand their ethical obligations and practice in an ethical way, there are no consistent mechanisms for enforcing any of the existing codes of ethics. Many jurisdictions do not require certification in the same way that, for example, states require lawyers to be licensed. Therefore, few forensic science practitioners face the threat of official sanctions or loss of certification for serious ethical violations. And it is unclear whether and to what extent forensic science practitioners are required to adhere to ethics standards as a condition of employment.
The National Institute of Forensic Science (NIFS), in consultation with its advisory board, should establish a national code of ethics for all forensic science disciplines and encourage individual societies to incorporate this national code as part of their professional code of ethics. Additionally, NIFS should explore mechanisms of enforcement for those forensic scientists who commit serious ethical violations. Such a code could be enforced through a certification process for forensic scientists.
Forensic science examiners need to understand the principles, practices, and contexts of scientific methodology, as well as the distinctive features of their specialty. Ideally, training should move beyond apprentice-like