The UK Forensic Regulator has recommended that all providers of forensic science services gain accreditation from the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). This move, which follows months of in-depth consultation, will enable all organisations whose primary role is to provide forensic science services into the criminal justice system to demonstrate competence and impartiality measured against internationally-recognised standards.
Andrew Rennison, The Forensic Regulator, outlined plans in January for delivering good quality forensic services to meet the needs of the modern criminal justice system. Stakeholder consultation resulted in on-going assessment of individuals and organisations emerging as the preferred outcome. This strategy is supported by the Associations of Chief Police Officers, the Forensic Science Advisory Council, the National Policing Improvement Agency, the Crown Prosecution Service, and major forensic science service providers.
UKAS accreditation has been recommended as the best way to deliver confidence in: examination of the crime scene for physical evidence to assist in investigations; the location, selection, recovery, preservation, transport, examination and evaluation of all forms of physical evidence; the interpretation of the findings in the context of the case; and presentation of the evidence to the investigating body and/or the court. Discussions continue regarding specific arrangements for implementation, and it is likely there will be a limited transitional period to enable organisations to acclimatise.
Jane Beaumont, Accreditation Director, said: “The justice system needs to have confidence that forensic science services are provided by competent people and competent organisations. Accreditation means forensic science providers have demonstrated their competence to carry out specific activities. UKAS is delighted that as a leader in the assessment of competence, it is able to contribute to Britain having – and continuing to have – a world-class, accountable justice system.”