Case Study: Accreditation supports the reliability of odorology in crime scene investigations

Accreditation supports the reliability of odorology in crime scene investigations

Odorology, or the science of smells, is an identification method of human scents by specially-trained dogs. Based on the uniqueness of human odours, it is used in criminology for judicial identification. Thanks to their highly developed sense of smell, highly-trained dogs can compare a human scent collected from an object on a crime scene with scents from several people, including that of a suspect or victim. To date, no international standard on the training of those dogs exists.

The Technical and Scientific Police Division (Sous-Direction de la Police Technique et Scientifique, SDPTS),  part of the Directorate-General of the French National Police, was already accredited for fingerprints and wanted an extension of its accreditation to have this activity acknowledged, leading to the development of a new scheme.

The ISO/IEC 17025 standard – General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories was applied to address this request. The scent sampling is not covered by accreditation as it is collected outside the laboratory, even if the latter must make sure that all upstream elements and phases are under control. In order to thoroughly cover all aspects of testing and evaluation, a technical assessor in sensory analysis as well as a technical expert, whose activity is to train dogs to scent detection, worked closely together.

Accredited in September 2016, this laboratory is, so far, the only one in France benefiting from an accreditation for such an activity.

Picture source: DICOM YM