Admissibility of forensic voice comparison testimony in England and Wales

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In 2015 the Criminal Practice Directions (CPD) on admissibility of expert evidence in England and Wales were revised. They emphasised the principle that “the court must be satisfied that there is a sufficiently reliable scientific basis for the evidence to be admitted”. The present paper aims to assist courts in understanding from a scientific perspective what would be necessary to demonstrate the validity of testimony based on forensic voice comparison. We describe different technical approaches to forensic voice comparison that have been used in the UK, and critically review the case law on their admissibility. We conclude that courts have been inconsistent in their reasoning. In line with the CPD, we recommend that courts enquire as to whether forensic practitioners have made use of data and analytical methods that are appropriate and adequate for the case under consideration, and that courts require forensic practitioners to empirically demonstrate the level of performance of their forensic voice comparison system under conditions reflecting those of the case under consideration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-33
Number of pages14
JournalCriminal Law Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

This material was first published by Thomson Reuters (Professional) UK Limited in Criminal Law Review and is reproduced by agreement with the Publishers.


  • Admissibility
  • Expert evidence
  • Voice recognition
  • Criminal evidence


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