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Forensic evidence quality call

Since October 2017, law enforcement has to disclose to the courts if forensic evidence they’re relying on in a prosecution is compliant with the Forensic Science Regulator’s Codes of Practice. The risk; that non-compliant products or services will be ruled inadmissible.

This has serious implications not just for the police says the trade association the BSIA, but the security industry; whether users, buyers or suppliers of forensic products and services. For example, a company that contracts with a supplier of forensic spray systems that is not compliant with the codes, could find that any resultant forensic evidence is ruled inadmissible in court, reducing their deterrent value.

In 2012, the Government abolished the Forensic Science Service, which was the main provider of forensic services to the courts, leaving it open for commercial companies to fill the gap. However, after the collapse of several high-profile Ccourt cases, including the Randox Laboratory, which is now subject to a criminal investigation, the regulator is seeking statutory powers to be able to ban sub-standard providers.

In her annual report, the Forensic Science Regulator, Gillian Tully, said: “Without statutory backing for my role, a number of small and micro-businesses have chosen, for financial reasons, not to move towards gaining accreditation and those that have met the quality standards have not yet been fully rewarded through the contracting process.

“Those not moving towards compliance should be in no doubt that their products and services will gradually receive fewer commissions and their Practitioners will face more challenges in court.”

The Asset and Property Marking Section of the BSIA welcomes the drive for increased quality. It agrees that suppliers of forensic products and services have to be independently accredited as being compliant, to prevent and reduce the risk miscarriages of justice, wasting police time and public money, resulting in the reduced credibility and reputation of the forensic security sector.

Mike Reddington, pictured, BSIA Chief Executive, said: “Our role is not only to promote our Members products and services but also encourage them to operate to the highest possible standards. Consequently, we applaud the Forensic Science Regulator’s drive for quality and confirm where relevant, all members of the BSIA are compliant, or are working toward compliance with the code for sound commercial reasons.”


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