Forensic Science • 3 mins read
Accredited organisations conducting forensic activities have been able to include compliance with the non-statutory Forensic Science Regulator (FSR) Codes of Practice (‘the Codes’) as part of their scope of accreditation since 2014. The commencement of the Forensic Science Regulator Act 2021 moved the Forensic Science Regulator to a statutory role requiring the publication of a Code of Practice (‘the Code’) relating to the undertaking of forensic activities in England and Wales. The path to statutory regulation began in 2016 and the UK Government supported a Private Member’s Bill calling for the FSR to have statutory powers. This became the FSR Act 2021 and a statutory Code was published in March 2023, the first of its kind anywhere in the world, following its approval by the Secretary of State and both Houses of Parliament in January 2023.
UKAS agreed a process with the FSR for the transition from the Codes to the statutory Code which would allow forensic organisations to demonstrate compliance with the Code for their scope of accreditation as detailed on their UKAS Schedules of Accreditation at the time the Code came into effect. The FSR requested that this be completed within a six-month period from the date of publication of the Code. UKAS undertook a detailed review of the Code to identify the key changes and issued a Transition Template to all qualifying organisations on 27th March 2023 requesting completion together with the provision of evidence to demonstrate compliance to be submitted to UKAS by 19th June 2023. 52 organisations were eligible to transition and the following details the status of these organisations with respect to the transition:
- 52/52 submissions were received prior to 2nd October 2023, and all have been reviewed with the exception of 2 submissions received on 29th September 2023 which are currently undergoing review
- 43/52 submissions were received on or before the deadline of 19th June 2023
- 45/50 organisations had findings raised requiring them to submit further evidence to UKAS
- 5/50 organisations had no findings raised
To-date, 45/52 forensic organisations have successfully transitioned to the Code on the effective date of it coming into force on 2nd October 2023. The associated Schedules of Accreditation have been revised and published on the UKAS website. UKAS would like to thank the Forensics team, in particular Katherine Monnery who led the transition, members of the transition team, and the Assessment Managers, decision makers and administrative colleagues, for their dedication and commitment over the past six months. This has been a significant and important part of the implementation of the statutory regulation of forensic science.
The remaining 7* organisations who have not transitioned, either because UKAS is reviewing their submission, or there are outstanding findings currently with them for review and correction, have had their entry for accreditation to the Codes removed from their Schedules of Accreditation with immediate effect. UKAS will continue to work with these organisations to progress transition to the Code once compliance has been demonstrated.
Forensic organisations that have yet to include the FSR non-statutory Codes on their scope and therefore have not qualified to take part in this transition can apply for an extension to scope to include the statutory Code by submitting (as applicable) an AC2 or AC4 application form (available from UKAS Application Forms). If you have any questions regarding the transition please contact Angela Shaw, [email protected].
*2 organisation are currently voluntarily suspended and will transition upon completion of their reinstatement assessment.