LORDS

Forensic Science - Lords Committee launches a new inquiry

23 July 2018

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee launches an inquiry into forensic science.

In recent years concerns have been raised about the state of forensic science in the UK, particularly in England and Wales, including by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee in 2013, the National Audit Office in 2015 and the Forensic Science Regulator in January 2018.

This inquiry will look at the contribution forensic science makes to the delivery of justice in the UK and its strengths and weaknesses in doing so. It will also explore the understanding and use of forensic evidence in the criminal justice system and how this evidence can be used effectively and robustly throughout the process.

The Committee invites submissions, with practical examples where possible, on topics including those mentioned below.

Scope

  • How the Criminal Justice System can be equipped with robust, accurate and transparent forensic science
  • Whether current training available for practitioners, lawyers and the judiciary is appropriate
  • Whether the current market for forensic services in England and Wales is sustainable and whether changes are needed to ensure forensic science provision is maintained at the level required
  • Whether the 'Forensic Science Strategy' produced by the Home Office in 2016 is suitable
  • Whether the Forensic Science Regulatory should be given statutory powers
  • What the gaps are in the research and understanding of forensic science
  • Whether enough is being done to prepare for the increasing role that digital forensics will have in the future

Chairman's comments

Chair of the Committee, Lord Patel, said:

"Recent reports have warned that police are increasingly relying on unregulated experts to examine samples from suspects and crime scenes. Given the important role forensic science can play in convicting or exonerating defendants, the Committee wants to make sure that forensic evidence is produced to a consistent scientific standard.

"We also want to examine the way in which forensic evidence is understood throughout criminal justice process, and whether the Government has considered the need to plan for the predicted increase in the amount of digital forensic evidence."

Timeline

The Committee is inviting written evidence on the issue, to be received by Friday 14 September 2018, and will start taking oral evidence on the inquiry in October.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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