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Forensick Science Part 2

Written by: Alan Baker 15th May, 2017

The recent forensic scandal involving blood drug testing http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39860639 and Jerry Hayes blog http://jerryhayes.co.uk/ regarding DNA testing of a gun has once again highlighted the perilous state of forensic science provision in the UK.

An associate of mine who worked for the Forensic Science Service, which closed in 2012, predicted that there would be a “renationalisation” of forensic science by 2018. I reckon that could be pretty accurate.

From a scientific perspective, I despair at how broken the system is and we see daily examples of just how difficult it can be to actually get a case completed for the defence. The extract below relates to a recent case where we were asked to examine and test DNA samples:

The system that is currently in place is that the items are examined here in the x Police Lab. Samples are taken and these are then submitted to the external DNA provider. The DNA provider is separate from the X Police and have their own procedures and policies. The laboratory here also has policies to follow. The current protocol for defence examinations is that any examination of items/notes is undertaken at the laboratory here at Y location, and any examination of the DNA extracts or DNA EPG’s is undertaken at the DNA providers laboratory. There is no way for the DNA extracts to be returned to the X Police Lab, and access to the DNA extracts and EPG’s has to go via the external DNA providers laboratory..

As the DNA provider is a separate company there is nothing that can be done, and the two parts of the defence examination have to be undertaken at the relevant locations. To the best of my knowledge, this has not been raised as an issue in any of the defence examinations we have previously had.

As I had responded to this issue back in February I had assumed that it had been dealt with and that trips to both the X Police Lab and the external DNA provider (Z lab) were being undertaken to be able to access all required items and DNA extracts.

The extracts are still held with the external DNA provider, and as detailed above are unable to be returned here for collection. As previously stated any requests for access to the DNA extracts will need to be directed to the relevant individuals at Z lab.