Forensic Science Experts for Criminal Defence Solicitors

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Then and Now

Written by: Alan Baker 5th January, 2024

Since buying the business in January 2004, Alan Baker has seen massive changes in the forensic science marketplace and most notably sees the demise of the Forensic Science Service (FSS) in 2012 as being the single biggest change in that time.

“It resulted in the end of a publicly-managed organisation which, at the time of its dissolution, was beginning to be transformed financially. It was just never given the chance to fully evolve by the coalition government.

The loss of the FSS resulted in the rise of a pseudo-commercial marketplace and the changes made at that time continue to reverberate around the big providers in 2024 as they try to outbid the competition during the regular contract renewals.

The advent of Streamlined Forensic Reporting is another significant change in the last 20 years and resulted in, theoretically, a speedier presentation of evidence. The preparation of evidentially acceptable statements only occurring when requested or required. I believe that the SFR “system” has certainly cut costs for the forensic providers but in my view there remains uncertainty of their legal status and their use remains something of great inconsistency.

In scientific terms, the loss of key forensic skills in areas such as fibre analysis is deeply regrettable, but it only mirrors the diminishing expertise in other areas of marks and trace evidence. The simple reality is that forces tend to look for the easiest and possibly cheapest scientific solution to crime-solving.

A major criminal justice success is undoubtedly the introduction of statutory drug driving limits in 2015 and the fact that more drug drivers are now prosecuted than drink drivers shows the extent of the problem. However, there remains potential issues of data interpretation/presentation and these persist as scientific and legal hot potatoes.

In my view, forensic science will always be under the court’s microscope and rightly so but in the last 20 years despite the above changes and challenges, I continue to be struck by the professionalism of those scientists that I encounter and genuinely believe that we are all striving as one for the betterment of the CJS.”