Quality Assurance 1631 Standardization of Methods

Forensic science laboratories must operate using prescribed methods and standards in order for their results to withstand scrutiny in the courtroom setting. The American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB) has created voluntary programs "in which any crime laboratory may participate to demonstrate that its management, personnel, operational and technical procedure, equipment and physical facilities meet established standards" (Romano 2004). Accreditation is desirable because it demonstrates adherence to standard protocols which, in turn, confers confidence in the reliability of laboratory results. While an increasing number of laboratories, worldwide, are seeking accreditation by ASCLD/LAB International Standards of Organization (ISO) are applied world wide as well and many forensic institutes (including entomological labs), trying to implement ISO 17025.

This trend will also be seen in the sub-discipline of forensic entomology. In fact, Amendt et al. (2006) published the first set of standards and guidelines for use by entomologists, pathologists, investigators, and other professionals since the publication of Entomology and Death: A Procedural Guide (Catts and Haskell 1990). By following standards and guidelines, the results from entomological analyses conducted by independent analysts will be comparable. Furthermore, the quality of the work can be more easily assessed (Amendt et al. 2007). Ideally, these standards and guidelines will be adopted by practitioners in every country, universalizing the science.

The American Board of Forensic Entomology (ABFE) was formed in 1996 as a means of certifying forensic entomologists (http://www.research.missouri.edu/ entomology). Being an ABFE Diplomate or Member reflects positively upon the forensic entomologist's experience and skill and bolsters their testimony as an expert witness In 2002 the European Association for Forensic Entomology was founded (www.eafe.org), which is just about to establish interlaboratory tests on an European level. The trend toward certification will continue as an increasing number of forensic entomologists are put on the witness stand to testify.

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