In August 2014 the long awaited revision of ILAC G19 was published on the ILAC website www.ilac.org.
The revised document provides guidance for organisations undertaking activities in relation to the forensic science process, including scene of crime units and laboratories. It is expected that all organisations offering accredited activity in this sector will incorporate this guidance into their systems and processes within the timescales identified below.
The new document has been changed significantly from the previous version which was published in 2002 with the purpose of: “… provide guidance for laboratories involved in forensic analysis and examination by providing application of ISO/IEC 17025.” The 2014 version has been expanded to also include activities undertaken at the crime scene and, therefore, includes additional reference to requirements of ISO/IEC 17020.
The decision to revise the document was taken in October 2007 at the IAF and ILAC Joint General Assembly; where it was decided to produce a single document that reflected the whole of the forensic science process and therefore needed to give guidance for both ISO/IEC 17020 and ISO/IEC 17025. The task of preparing the new document was given to Working Group 10 of the ILAC Accreditation Committee (ILAC AIC WG10).
UKAS were represented on the ILAC AIC WG10 and have therefore been strongly involved in the production of the new ILAC G19 document.
The process of the revision was challenging for a number of reasons including the need to encompass the forensic process from crime scene to court report, the need to accommodate the diversity of implementation of forensic science on an international level, and also to allow for the variation in the use of ISO/IEC 17020 and ISO/IEC 17025 for different parts of the forensic process by different National Accreditation Bodies around the world. For this reason the normal format of ILAC documents, in terms of clause – by – clause guidance, was not possible and therefore a new format of document was needed. The structure of the new ILAC G19 follows the modules of the forensic process from the initial discussions regarding scene of crime attendance to the reporting of examinations and tests including interpretations. There is also some general guidance that is common to all activities given at the start of the document e.g. in relation to competence, equipment etc.
As a consequence of the publication of the new ILAC G19 a decision was made at the recent EA General Assembly to withdraw the publication ‘EA-5/03 M: 2008 – Guidance for the implementation of ISO/IEC 17020 in the field of crime scene investigation’ as it was considered that the revised ILAC G19 appropriately covers the expectations for scene of crime which had been previously detailed in the EA-5/03 document.
UKAS plans to start including the expectations of the revised ILAC G19 in routine assessments from March 2015 and will review the incorporation of these expectations into the organisations processes and procedures as part of all assessments undertaken after that date to both accredited or applicant forensic organisations.
In preparation for their assessment forensic organisations should undertake and document a gap analysis of their systems against the revised ILAC G19 and put plans in place to have addressed any gaps prior to their routine UKAS visit. The documented gap analysis will be requested by UKAS as part of the preparation for the visit.
For further information regarding the document ‘ILAC G19:08/2014 Modules in the Forensic Science Process’ please contact your Assessment Manager or Katherine Monnery at [email protected]