Lords report recommends probability training for law advocates

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A report by the House of Lords has recommended that advocates practising in criminal courts should, as part of their continuing professional development, ‘be required to undertake training in the use of scientific evidence in court and basic scientific principles such as probability, scientific inference and research methods’.

The House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee made the recommendation in its report, ‘Forensic science and the criminal justice system: a blueprint for change. The report acknowledges that the quality and delivery of forensic science in England and Wales is ‘inadequate’ and makes a series of recommendations to improve the use of forensic science in the criminal justice system.

Florence Nightingale at 200 – your ideas welcome!

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2020 will mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale – the Society’s first female member, and we’re looking for ways to celebrate her important work in statistics.

The RSS is already developing plans to ensure that this bicentenary is marked in suitable style. To take things forward, RSS Council member Christl Donnelly has been asked by RSS President Deborah Ashby to chair a small group that will choose between the many celebratory ideas that have already been proposed.

President’s Invited Lecture announced for RSS 2019 Conference

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We are pleased to announce that Professor Charlotte Watts will give the Campion (President’s Invited) lecture at the RSS 2019 Conference in Belfast this September.

Professor Charlotte Watts has been chief scientific adviser to the UK Department of International Development (DFID) since October 2015. In this role she is director of the research and evidence division and head of the science and engineering profession for DFID.

RSS writes to Ofqual about its maths skills report

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The Royal Statistical Society welcomes the recent publication of the Ofqual Mathematical Skills Working Group report: The assessment of mathematical skills in AS/A level business and AS/A level psychology and has responded to Ofqual offering expertise on continuously improving standards of qualifications and assessments of statistical and data skills across the curriculum.

Sharon Witherspoon, RSS vice president for education and statistical literacy, wrote:

RSS highlights late death registrations problem to stats watchdog

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Ed Humpherson, the Director General for Regulation at the UK Statistics Authority, has thanked the RSS – in particular, former RSS council member Professor Sheila Bird from the MRC Biostatistics Unit at Cambridge University – for continuing to highlight the problem of late death registrations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The RSS has long campaigned to change current legislation, which allows for the registration of deaths that are subject to an inquest, to be delayed until the cause of death has been established. We are concerned that delays for inquest verdicts on suicides and drug-related deaths, in particular, mean that calendar-year trends are seriously confounded.

Prominent statisticians elected FRS and appointed to key RAE role

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Many congratulations to Professor Sarah Darby, who is now an elected Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS). A professor of medical statistics at Oxford University and RSS fellow since 1976, Sarah is one of 51 eminent scientists to become FRS this year in recognition of their exceptional contributions to science.

Much of Sarah’s work is focused around the impact of ionising radiation on human health, such as demonstrating the impact of radiotherapy for breast cancer treatment on the risk of heart disease. This work has helped doctors to assess which patients should receive radiotherapy and who should avoid it altogether.

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