New plan to improve police forensics
The Home Office has unveiled a 13-point ‘action plan’ to improve police forensics after a review into the provision of services such as DNA and fingerprint evidence found urgent action was required to make the current system sustainable.
Published today (April 23), the plan aims to improve public confidence, support the criminal justice system and ensure the quality and stability of future forensics provision.
The review was carried out by the Home Office in conjunction with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC). Among its recommendations are making providers adhere to the quality standards set by the Forensics Science Regulator and ensuring the market’s commercial models are sustainable and open to investment.
Minister for Policing and the Fire Service Nick Hurd said: “Forensic science is an invaluable tool for bringing criminals to justice. We must ensure it is sustainable, works at a high standard and has the confidence of the public. This is why I commissioned this review and we are now taking action to strengthen the market.”
The plan includes a commitment to support Chris Green MP’s Private Members Bill to give the regulator statutory powers of enforcement, as well as supporting the regulator’s accreditation timetable. The Home Office will also work with national bodies, such as UK Research and Innovation, alongside the Ministry of Justice to establish a new oversight mechanism for research and development;
In a joint statement, APCC forensics lead Martyn Underhill and deputy lead Mark Burns-Williamson said: “The effectiveness of our criminal justice system is often dependent on the evidence obtained by high quality dedicated forensic experts that help keep our communities safe. “We are world leaders in the provision of forensic science, but we have recently seen significant issues that need urgently addressing. This review highlights those issues and provides recommendations and actions to ensure we continue to provide excellent forensic provision into the future.
“The APCC will continue to work with police chiefs and the Government to ensure investment in forensic science is increased and that this is reflected in the forthcoming spending review.”
The NPCC lead for forensic science, Chief Constable James Vaughan, added: “We welcome the findings of the forensic review, which was undertaken jointly by the NPCC, APCC and Home Office, and are now working to implement the recommendations, which will assist us to stabilise the market while making further improvements around quality standards and accreditation.
“The Transforming Forensics Programme, which secured Police Transformation funding, is already delivering capability in line with the findings of the review. It provides a long–term opportunity to ensure this vital area of policing and criminal justice is sustainable and will enable forces to achieve and maintain high–quality, efficient and standardised processes while acting as a single voice on behalf of policing with key stakeholders.”