OPEN PloS one | 11 Feb 2016
S Marchal, O Bregeras, D Puaux, R Gervais and B Ferry
Human scent identification is based on a matching-to-sample task in which trained dogs are required to compare a scent sample collected from an object found at a crime scene to that of a suspect. Based on dogs' greater olfactory ability to detect and process odours, this method has been used in forensic investigations to identify the odour of a suspect at a crime scene. The excellent reliability and reproducibility of the method largely depend on rigor in dog training. The present study describes the various steps of training that lead to high sensitivity scores, with dogs matching samples with 90% efficiency when the complexity of the scents presented during the task in the sample is similar to that presented in the in lineups, and specificity reaching a ceiling, with no false alarms in human scent matching-to-sample tasks. This high level of accuracy ensures reliable results in judicial human scent identification tests. Also, our data should convince law enforcement authorities to use these results as official forensic evidence when dogs are trained appropriately.
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