Skip to main content
 
 
 

40 Years Of Forensic Science - What Has Changed?

40 Years Of Forensic Science - What Has Changed?

Forty years of forensic science expertise - what has changed? Keith Borer Consultants former forensic biologist Dr Duncan Woods reflects

KBC is celebrating 40 years of forensic expertise in 2020.  As part of our celebrations, we invited Dr Duncan Woods, former Forensic Biologist with the company, to share his thoughts on what has changed during that time:

"Forty years have seen KBC grow into one of the longest established commercial providers of forensic science in England/Wales and possibly the UK.  This has been a considerable achievement for a commercial company, largely reliant on public funds to provide a public service.  Especially when one remembers that in 1979 almost all forensic science was provided by the Home Office.

"A lot can change in forty years – then, petrol cost 28p per litre, a pint of milk was 17p and a pint of beer was 35p.  The average salary for a forensic scientist has risen from about £5000 to around £27000, and there have been massive changes in how those professionals are (or are not) utilised by criminal justice systems.  There have been huge improvements in methods and technologies.  Hours spent deciphering blood grouping results have been replaced by mass automated generation of DNA profiles, with the added ability to then search the profiles of millions of people for a match.

"While many of the observational or interpretive forms of forensic science, like blood pattern interpretation, textile fibre comparison and footwear marks, have become neglected, emphasis has shifted to methods with capacity to identify suspects (fingerprints and DNA) and digital forensics.  The concept of digital forensics didn’t exist in 1979, when a mobile phone the size of a house brick would have seemed like space age science.  Now the rapidly increasing capacity of digital forensic techniques to recover and sift vast quantities of digital records has, in itself, created knock-on problems for the human component of criminal case progression; most recently seen with analysis of phone records in contested sexual offence cases.

"In general, the broader scientific community has provided methods to forensic science that have kept pace with the requirements of the various criminal justice systems in which KBC works.  Forensic practitioners have then employed those methods with considerable expertise to provide vastly improved capacity to identify suspects, trace their movements and contacts, and decipher what happened at crime scenes in ways that could not have been imagined 40 years ago.  And the pace of change seems set to accelerate (look out for increased use of AI, biometric data, facial recognition and more DNA technologies).

"At risk of playing a 'good old days' card, there have also been professionally distressing developments in forensic science, largely since 2010.  This period has seen a move away from prosecutions based on the evidence of forensic experts tasked with maximising the evidential potential using the available test methods, to a more minimalist service concentrated on bulk provision of test results.  This has been accompanied by greater emphasis on economic than evidential considerations.

"For most cases the results are routinely provided to the CJS with either no expert evidential assessment of value, or perhaps a narrow assessment that rarely fully reflects the case circumstances.  There can be no doubt that over that last 10 years, in the UK, a comprehensive expert forensic science profession has been forced to dwindle to a more minimal analytical process.  This is something that KBC has fought at every turn of the political page, at the same time as seeking to provide experts to plug evidential gaps and accurately interpret evidential significance for the courts.

"On a personal note, it has been an immense privilege to have been allowed to spend 30 of those 40 years in a fascinating and intellectually rewarding career, crawling through murder scenes, examining exhibits and pulling evidence together for testimony at court (and it is nothing like what is portrayed by ‘Silent Witness’!).  That work has introduced me to many highly motivated individuals throughout UK forensic providers; dedicated people concerned with fairly and impartially presenting forensic evidence.

"While this was an exciting time to be a forensic scientist, I am sure the next 40 years will be at least as varied and rewarding, for those seeking such a career.  With luck and dedication, in 40 years’ time, my successors will be writing not only about the increased price of a pint of beer and average salaries, but also how their expertise and determination had, in many tangible ways, sought to improve to quality of criminal justice and prevent potential miscarriages of justice."

 

Tweets by @KBCforensics 

Subscribe To Mailing List

To unsubscribe click here

What our customers say...

  • Helpfulness from always timely, pleasant and helpful first contact to conclusion of case.

    Solicitor, July 2021
  • Service was excellent throughout.

    Solicitor, August 2020
  • Good service, prompt, efficient, have used many times in the past.

    Solicitor, April 2020
  • Value for money.

    Solicitor, May 2020
  • Mr Appleby’s DNA report and the way in which he broke complex issues down was very much appreciated and greatly assisted in my cross-examination. I would have no hesitation in seeking his expert guidance again in the future.

    Barrister, June 2021
  • Speedy and detailed quotes which do not delay funding from LAA.

    Solicitor, December 2020
  • Would definitely use you again; very impressed.

    Solicitor, November 2020
  • Nigel Cook was incredibly thorough, professional and responded to my emails/questions very promptly.

    Barrister, June 2021
  • Your (cell site) reports and maps were extremely helpful.

    Barrister, February 2021 ​​​​​​
  • Quick response with quote and report.

    Solicitor, August 2021
  • Ross Donnelly has been so helpful and professional at all times. We haven’t enough positive things to say about him.

    Solicitor, July 2021
  • Quick and easy service. Clear and concise statement provided by the expert.

    Private instruction, September 2021
  • Speedy quotes and timely delivery of reports.

    Solicitor, August 2021
  • Prompt responses, excellent handwriting experts.

    Solicitor, May 2021
  • Always provide detailed quotes to assist with applying for authority from LAA. Quick response and good communication.

    Solicitor, March 2021
  • Excellent, as usual.

    Solicitor, September 2020
  • I chose this company, as the first point of contact was extremely helpful.

    Private instruction, September 2020
  • I have been instructing KBC for over 15 years and have always been happy with the service, contact from experts and quality of the reports.

    Solicitor, December 2020
  • Prompt and Professional and produces excellent reports.

    Solicitor, September 2020
  • Quick, expert and accurate.

    Solicitor, July 2020
  • Quick, efficient service and a well-prepared report.

    Solicitor, July 2020
  • Very impressed; would use again.

    Barrister, April 2021
  • Reliable, professional & very helpful. Helen Davey is a class act

    Solicitor, August 2021
  • Telephone communications were very helpful when we were not able to contact the expert directly. The call takers were knowledgeable as to the case and what was required and answered any queries we had.

    Solicitor, September 2020
  • Quick, professional, friendly, comprehensive.

    Prison Governor, June 2020
  • Courteous and informative.

    Solicitor, December 2020
  • I was able to have a meaningful conversation with a specialist when obtaining a quote for the work.

    Solicitor, June 2020
  • Provided quotes quickly and complied with court timescales.

    Solicitor, December 2020
  • Mrs Allan was most informative and provided explanations where required. A very professional attitude.

    Private Client, March 2021
  • We have always received professional and high standards of services. Reports are produced promptly and communications responded to without delay.

    Solicitor, September 2020
  • Recently listened to a podcast of one of the experts and was impressed with content.

    Solicitor, July 2021
  • Brilliant communication, my emails were promptly answered.

    Private instruction, September 2020
  • Many thanks for the report which is excellent.

    Solicitor, August 2021
  • Friendly, approachable, amenable, accommodating, professional.

    Instructing party, April 2021
  • Past experience has taught us that KBC is the go-to expert witness service.

    Solicitor, March 2021
  • I don’t think the service could be improved upon or bettered in any way.

    Private Instruction, November 2020
  • Exceptionally efficient service.

    Solicitor, December 2020
  • Mr Brown was very good, he explained all the relevant toxicology issues, which can be complicated, and also explained them to the Court.

    Solicitor, June 2021
  • I am impressed by the efficiency and quality of the computer forensic reports. You are always my first port of call.

    Solicitor, May 2021
  • Mr Prime was very good at court in explaining concepts to the jury and presenting his evidence. I would have no hesitation in using him again and recommending him to others.

    Barrister, June 2021
  • Reliable and excellent communication to ensure that the work requested can be undertaken and processed efficiently.

    Solicitor, August 2021
  • Gregg Beatson was professional, knowledgeable and gave his opinion well.

    Counsel, June 2021
  • No question was too silly and everything was explained so clearly and easily; great customer service.

    Private instruction, September 2020
  • Regular contact, advice on hand via phone if necessary, prompt and efficient.

    Solicitor, August 2020
  • Clear advice given at start and very prompt response.

    Private Client, March 2021
  • Really happy with all aspects of this case and would definitely recommend this company. Thank you.

    Private instruction, September 2020
  • Easy access to experts; excellent communication and advice, as required.

    Solicitor, September 2020
  • I have worked with Mr Donnelly in many cases over the years and his expertise, presentation of written work and ability in the witness box is second to none.

    Counsel, November 2020
  • Thank you very much once again for your excellent service.

    Solicitor, March 2021
  • Speedy responses to our instructions and questions asked. Helpful estimated timeframe for the service of reports.

    Solicitor, January 2021
  • Karl Ebejer was always prompt with responses and was very helpful.

    Solicitor, August 2020
  • Provided very comprehensive response to initial fire investigation enquiry, which guided what we needed.

    Solicitor, May 2021
  • Judge gave favourable comments on Dr Ash's balanced approach.

    Barrister, June 2021
  • Website was very informative.  First contact was knowledgeable and efficient. The report was delivered in record time - very impressed!

    Solicitor, January 2021
  • Fast response and work turnover time; great customer service.

    Solicitor, November 2020
  • Communication and speed of delivery of information was, as always, excellent.

    Solicitor, April 2020
  • Simon Bunter was excellent in evidence and dealt with the cross examination very well. He was adept at handling the questions and was professional in his delivery. He was well prepared and thorough.

    Barrister, May 2021
  • A thorough analysis, with well set out conclusions.

    Solicitor, July 2020
  • Mr Frost has been a great help in this case and we really appreciate his assistance.

    Solicitor, February 2021
  • Mr Fagan was readily available to answer queries very promptly and worked to a tight time limit. He was also extremely helpful in trying circumstances surrounding a refusal by the prosecution to release exhibits.

    Solicitor, April 2021
  • We have used your services on many previous occasions. You always provide the cheapest estimate and respond quicker than any other service provider we have contacted for the purposes of Legal Aid.

    Solicitor, January 2021
  • Excellent DNA knowledge. Good turn around speed and communication.

    Solicitor, May 2021
  • I find KBC invariably helpful and reliable.

    Solicitor, December 2020
  • Superlative quality of experts and understanding of the particular challenges facing solicitors’ firms.

    Solicitor, July 2021
  • I always choose you because of the fast, efficient and excellent work you do.

    Solicitor, April 2021
  • Extremely helpful, efficient and above all thoroughly professional.

    Solicitor, December 2020
  • Experts are always happy to discuss matters prior to providing report.

    Solicitor, December 2020
  • Easy to contact, quick responses (particularly in the current circumstances), very helpful staff.

    Solicitor, April 2020
  • Excellent client care and service.

    Solicitor, August 2020
  • I chose KBC because it has a good reputation and the price is very fair.

    Private client, April 2021
  • Andrew Dampier provided first class service in the form of reports and maps. He was able to explain the report in good layman’s terms and was also available to take calls and provide further information to counsel.

    Barrister, January 2021
  • Swift and timely report – kept in touch throughout the process – happy to discuss the matter further over the phone.

    Solicitor, August 2021
  • Good admin - chasing up correspondence. Quick preparation of report. Easy access to expert for clarification purposes.

    Solicitor, April 2021
  • Good communication, fast quote and service of drink drive report.

    Solicitor, May 2021
  • Very quick response to queries raised following receipt of report. Very helpful.

    Solicitor, January 2021
  • My impression of your service was excellent.

    Private Instruction, November 2020
  • Thank you very much, I am grateful and impressed with your service.

    Solicitor, January 2021
  • I am extremely grateful to you for all your work on this case, in particular your prompt and helpful responses to my repeated requests.

    Barrister, February 2021
  • Mr Dunnill’s report was helpful and our conference at Court informative; I would certainly be happy to use him in a case again.

    Barrister, December 2020
  • We have used KBC on many occasions in the past and have always had a reliable service.

    Solicitor, April 2020
  • Very approachable.

    Solicitor, November 2020
  • Please pass on my thanks to Ross Donnelly for everything - top job!

    Counsel, July 2021
  • Report well presented. Concise and precise.

    Solicitor, February 2021
  • There is no question that your input was instrumental in persuading the Defendants to alter their stance.

    Solicitor, September 2020
  • Mr Ebejer was always very professional and friendly.

    Solicitor, August 2020
  • Mrs Morley was very good and a strong defence witness.

    Solicitor, April 2021
  • Our lawyer is most impressed with your report.

    Instructing party, Guyana, April 2021
  • Great communication, very informative and quick turnaround.

    Solicitor, August 2021
  • I find your service prompt, efficient and helpful. Alan was particularly helpful and rang me to discuss issues. I was able to understand clearly what he was outlining and think he will be an asset to the defence case.

    Solicitor, April 2021
  • I was told you were the best at what you did. I honestly believe I got what was required.

    Private client, July 2020
  • Provided helpful information above and beyond what was expected.

    Solicitor, February 2021
  • Extremely efficient in all respects.

    Solicitor, August 2021
  • We have used your company numerous times and have always received very well written and easy to understand reports.

    Solicitor, March 2021
  • Knowledgeable, helpful and polite.

    Solicitor, June 2020

Keith Borer Consultants is a division of Orchid Cellmark Ltd, a company registered in England at 16 Blacklands Way, Abingdon, OX14 1DY.

Registered No. 4045527; VAT registration No. GB 750 0292 64

Website developed by Problue Solutions