Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1280-1283)|
MP, AND MR
14 JUNE 2006
Q1280 Dr Turner: But you said to
inform, rather than evidence based.
Mr Coaker: Your decisions are
informed by the evidence. The evidence is there. You need to be
informed by the evidence. In the end, however, people make judgments.
Sometimes the evidence conflicts, even from scientists. You get
different scientists saying different things. Then what do you
do? They are both saying that they have the right evidence. "I
am a scientist. I have this evidence." Another scientist
comes along with completely different evidence. In the end, there
is a judgment that is made; but what you are trying to do is that
your policy is informed by the evidence. That is the role of the
Chief Scientific Adviser.
Q1281 Dr Harris: In an article in
Criminal Justice Matters, Professor Tim Hope, who is Professor
of Criminology at the University of Keele, said, ". . . it
was with sadness and regret"in dealing with the Home
Office"that I saw our work ill-used and our faith
in government's use of evidence traduced". My question to
you is this. Do you take allegations like that seriously, or do
you think it is just not fair and can never happen? That was the
impression I had from your answer to the earlier quote, "To
participate in Home Office research is to endorse a biased agenda".
Are you concerned about allegations like that, or is it just mischief-making
in your view?
Mr Coaker: No. If people are making
comments to you, you need to take those comments into account,
even if you find them uncomfortable. You need to listen to what
people have to say. The point I was making before was that sometimes
you will get conflicting pieces of evidence, in that some people
will put forward one thing and somebody else will make a completely
different point. In the end, you have to make a judgment.
Q1282 Dr Harris: This is a different
point. This is an allegation of misuse, a traducement, bad faith
by the Home Office. It is a separate issue about whether the policy
was right. My question is this. Are you sensitive to that?
Joan Ryan: There are a large number
of people who say very complimentary things as well. So there
is always a balance to be struck. It is true that different scientists
take different views.
Q1283 Chairman: But you agree that
they should be taken into account?
Mr Coaker: You do. They should
always be looked at and taken into account. I am sorry if I gave
the impression before that I did not, because I did not mean thatif
I did give that impression.
Chairman: Vernon Coaker, Joan Ryan, thank
you very much indeed. It has been a long session. We have enjoyed
it enormously. It has been very valuable to us.