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A major step in acknowledging the reliability of odorology.

The context:

Odorology, or the science of smells, is an identification method of human scents by specially-trained dogs. Comparison method based on the uniqueness of human odours, it is used in criminology for judicial identification. Thanks to their highly developed sense of smell, specially-trained dogs can discriminate scents among a combination of odours. 

The request:

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 challenge:

Decades ago, work on this comparison method was developed in Hungary. Yet, no international standard applying to the odorology training of dogs currently exists.

Our approach:

After arbitration, standard ISO/IEC 17025 - General requirements for the competence to carry out tests and/or calibrations was applied to address this request. Then, a question arised: how to evaluation this specific activity? 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. The variety of profiles composing the working group helped understand better this request.

The outcome:

The accreditation scope initially proposed was refined: 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. Accredited in September 2016, this laboratory is, so far, the only one in France benefitting from an accreditation for such an activity.

« Working on odorology was an exciting experience! From a strictly professional point of view, this unusual request led us to think outside the box. In the end, this is an incredible activity and I had the chance to talk with our cynophilist technical assessor, who’s passionate about his job, about his many anecdotes. »

Catherine Margas, Accreditation Manager, Laboratories section.

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