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HUMANITIES SCIENCE POLITICS

Science, People & Politics ISSN 1751-598X

FORENSIC SCIENCE REGULATOR | 24

Forensic Science Regulator calls for adherence
to standards and vigilance

IN JANUARY 2017 OF THIS YEAR THE FORENSIC SCIENCE REGULATOR FOR ENGLAND AND WALES
RELEASED HER SECOND ANNUAL REPORT. DR GILLIAN TULLY'S AIM REMAINS THAT FORENSIC
SCIENCE BE OF THE REQUIRED QUALITY FOR THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM. HER 46-PAGE REPORT
IS MINDFUL OF BOTH DEFENCE AND PROSECUTION NEEDS, AND OF THE RIGHTS OF VICTIMS AND
DEFENDANTS IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM OF ENGLAND AND WALES.

By Helen Gavaghan*

Standards. It's all about standards. That is the message writ large by the Forensic
Science Regulator in her annual report to November 2016, and published 6th January 2017.
In her foreword, Dr Gillian Tully (Ph.D), writes,

"To be clear, the standards are not some unachievable 'gold-plated ideal... .".

When Dr Tully writes forensic science, it is her short hand for forensic science and forensic
pathology.

A RISK ACROSS THE BOARD
Between November of 2016 and April 2017 more than 60 percent of the outsourced
market by value is up for tender, or to be transferred to a new provider. That, in Dr Tully's view,
is a general risk factor faced by forensic science

"Experience has shown that when large volumes of work change hands, there is an increase in
quality failures and a loss of skills," says the report, and vigilance will be needed in light of
provider changes.

Not only market-place changes confront forensic science. By October 2017 police are meant to
comply with the Forensic Science Regulator's Codes of Practise (the codes) for digital
forensics. In 2018 forensic science within policing must comply also with the codes for
fingerprint comparison, and by 2020 with codes for scene-of-crime activities.

At time of publication the Regulator's view of digital forensics compliance with the codes was,

"...the indications are that few organisations will attain the required scope of accreditation by
October 2017".

Dr Tully argues Statutory Powers are needed to "induce" compliance by those organisations
which have not committed the necessary resources to attain standards set for digital forensics.

Firearm classification has also caught her eye, and she points out the risk of incorrect
classification of some weapons remains, though she does not go in to detail.

24

Issue 1 (Jan-Mar), 2017............................................Science, People & Politics ISSN 1751-598X print and online


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CONTENTS

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Published Friday 24th February, 2017,
nominally.
Completed 9th April, 2017.

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