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  Hours spent deciphering blood grouping results have been replaced by mass automated generation of DNA profiles, with the added ability to then search the profiles of millions of people for a match.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."

 

Subscribe To Mailing List

To unsubscribe click here

What our customers say...

  • I was very grateful to your Mike Prime for assistance he gave me on a case recently when he went out of his way to assist, despite the fact a trial was imminent and it became clear I would not have the chance to formally instruct at that point. I thought that was very impressive.

    Solicitor – October 2018
  • Impressed with all aspects – knowledge, presentation, lines of communication.

    Solicitor – January 2018
  • Speedy, efficient and professional as always!

    Solicitor – March 2018
  • Have used you before and always found you efficient and easy to deal with.

    Solicitor – August 2018
  • Mr Prime attended punctually on each day of this case.  He possesses a very approachable and helpful attitude.

    Solicitor – October 2018
  • Mr Cook’s evidence was clear and concise and did not waiver under cross-examination.  His efforts in this case are greatly appreciated.

    Solicitor – October 2018
  • We find you reliable and expeditious.

    Solicitor – July 2019
  • Thanks to Sarah Morley for her help: her evidence was very important in bringing this case to justice and it is greatly appreciated.

    Solicitor - August 2019
  • Responsive, fast turnaround, quality reports, legal aid rates.

    Solicitor - April 2018
  • Quick response to our request; friendly members of staff.

    Solicitor – September 2018
  • Very impressive and thoroughly excellent performance in the witness box.

    Counsel – February 2018
  • Very fast, professional, easy to instruct.

    Solicitor, November 2019
  • Simon Bunter is as good an expert as I have ever worked with.

    Barrister, December 2019
  • Prompt and efficient communication, met the deadline, carried out the instructions.

    Solicitor – October 2018
  • John Tarpey's evidence was critical to the success of this case.

    Senior Counsel – February 2018
  • Richard Brown was excellent and his professional manner/quality of evidence won the day for us - compared with the prosecution expert! Quality counts!

    Solicitor - June 2018
  • Your service was exemplary.

    Solicitor – January 2019
  • Richard Brown is an excellent expert witness.

    Barrister – November 2018
  • KBC’s efficiency never ceases to amaze me!

    Solicitor – January 2018
  • Eager to assist at very short notice and very helpful on the phone.

    Solicitor – May 2019
  • Competitive price – within LAA Standards; approachable, polite staff and great expert.

    Solicitor – January 2018
  • Many thanks for your very helpful and professional report.

    Solicitor – June 2019
  • Very good, in fact excellent!

    Solicitor – February 2018
  • Clear communication, very good advice, good quality of forensic report.

    Solicitor – January 2019
  • Reasonably priced compared to other experts.

    Solicitor – May 2019
  • Efficient and very responsive.

    Solicitor - April 2019
  • Always try to instruct, if possible, due to excellent service provided.

    Solicitor, September 2019
  • Fiona Taylor provided quick responses to all of my questions and queries. The service was very professional throughout, from my initial enquiry to receiving the Report.

    Solicitor – July 2018
  • Local, efficient, competitive and quick.

    Solicitor – February 2018
  • We are very grateful to Mr Marryat for all the hard work he has done for us.

    Solicitor – June 2019
  • We have used KBC for many years: always helpful, plenty of experts & LAA seems to be happy with estimates for CRM4 application purposes.

    Solicitor - August 2019
  • I found Mr Prime to be a very good natured and competent expert witness who presented well in the witness box.

    Barrister – July 2019
  • The Evidence given by Mr Dunnill resulted in the trial of issue being found in the client's favour, thereby avoiding immediate custodial sentence.

    Barrister, August 2019
  • Would use the service again with no hesitation.

    Solicitor – January 2018
  • Always a good service.

    Solicitor – September 2018
  • Fab service from your Ross Donnelly & Mark Henderson - thank you.

    Counsel – March 2018
  • We have used KBC for our forensic requirements for many years. The service has always been excellent, timely and useful.

    Solicitor – November 2018
  • Very thorough report.

    Solicitor – June 2018
  • We have been instructing KBC for the last 20 years or so, and they are listed as our first choice on our database. I have never had any cause for complaint and the experts have always acted with integrity and professionalism.

    Solicitor – January 2019
  • Prompt, succinct, communicative and pleasant to deal with.

    Solicitor – January 2018
  • Quality service, helpful staff, prompt reports.  Our company has used Keith Borer Consultants for many years.

    Solicitor - February 2019
  • It is always easy to contact KBC and to get a prompt reply.

    Solicitor – July 2019
  • Just a very high quality, professional service.

    Solicitor, December 2019
  • Used KBC for years; always found you efficient and helpful.

    Solicitor – May 2018
  • As always, your firm goes out of its way to assist.  Together with the high standards of reports, it is why I have used your firm since the 1980’s.

    Solicitor – May 2018
  • Consistently reliable. Reports are very easy to read.

    Solicitor – July 2019
  • Please thank Sarah Morley for her sterling work.

    Solicitor – November 2018
  • Exceptional service.

    Solicitor – November 2018
  • We are especially impressed by the Expert's willingness to discuss a case over the telephone before a formal instruction and the fast turnaround for completion of reports.

    Solicitors – June 2018
  • We’ve had years of excellent service from you.

    Solicitor – August 2018
  • Based on many previous instructions to assist with our cases, the reports produced by your Experts are always helpful.

    Solicitor – July 2018
  • Have used Keith Borer in the past for many different types of reports and would do so again.

    Solicitor – December 2018
  • I have previously attended a demonstration of the techniques used by the experts at Keith Borer Consultants.  What they can achieve is genuinely astonishing.  I require my instructing solicitor to immediately contact Keith Borer Consultants and seek out their assistance.

    Colin Buckle, Barrister – September 2018
  • Extremely efficient.

    Solicitor – August 2018
  • We are very grateful to Mr Prime.  He made himself available at short notice and was contactable over the phone beforehand in order to clarify/confirm certain aspects of the case.

    Solicitor – May 2018
  • Great report - it really shows off your skills compared to the prosecution (so-called) experts. Thanks so much.

    Counsel - June 2018
  • John Tarpey's expert report was full and allowed me to present the material to the court effectively and allowed me, with his assistance, to effectively challenge the prosecution expert's assertions.

    Barrister – November 2018
  • We have used you many times before and have never been anything but entirely satisfied. We will continue to do so.

    Solicitor – June 2018
  • Very quick turnaround, with attention to detail and helpful comments.

    Solicitor, January 2020
  • Please pass on my thanks to Emma Youngson for the speed at which she completed the report; I am very grateful.

    Solicitor - July 2019
  • Attentive. Quick. Professional.

    Solicitor – July 2018
  • Easy to find on Google and seemed like decent, legitimate company at decent price.

    Private client - March 2019
  • The service was both timely and accurate - exactly what was required in a developing trial.

    Solicitor – November 2018
  • Thank you very much, again, for the professionalism of your expert witnesses.

    Barrister – November 2018
  • We have been using your services for a number of years and have always been very happy with the service provided.

    Solicitor - April 2019
  • Easy to read report.

    Solicitor – July 2018
  • Mr Cook completed the report very quickly and to a high standard, despite the very short timeframe in which he was given.

    Solicitor – October 2018
  • Extremely prompt service.

    Solicitor – July 2019
  • Alan Henderson was excellent.  Very knowledgeable on this area of law.  Provided an excellent report, with speed.

    Solicitor – November 2018
  • Expert always contactable and very helpful (Alan Henderson).

    Solicitor – January 2018
  • You provide a good service and work within the constraints of the LAA funding.

    Solicitor – April 2018
  • Jenny Gray acted with the utmost integrity throughout. This was noted in open court by the judge hearing the case.

    Solicitor, October 2019
  • Complete satisfaction with services.

    Solicitor, September 2019
  • Helpfully swift responses – in respect of both fee estimates and reports.

    Solicitor – January 2018
  • Very good.

    Counsel – May 2018
  • No improvement needed.

    Solicitor – July 2018
  • As always, I am entirely satisfied by the services provided by your company.  These are provided to the highest level.

    Solicitor – January 2018
  • It is about professionalism, efficiency, attention to detail, courtesy and kindness.  It is a very, very long time since I have dealt with any group that was as quick to respond and as efficient as you all were.

    Private Client – April 2018
  • Speed, efficiency and accuracy.

    Solicitor – June 2018
  • I am really grateful for your assistance in this case; I am sure it made the pivotal difference.

    Solicitor – May 2019
  • You guys are simply the best.

    Solicitor - September 2018
  • Adrian Armstrong is an excellent witness who easily out-shone the police expert.

    Barrister - November 2018
  • Reliable and trustworthy.

    Solicitor – August 2018
  • I instructed Mr Armstrong on a recommendation from another counsel and will certainly recommend him to my colleagues in future.

    Barrister – November 2018
  • Compassionate and professional attitude.

    Private client – March 2018
  • Excellent reports within Legal Aid rates.

    Solicitor, November 2019
  • Richard Brown always provides accurate and impartial advice, which makes the advocate’s job so much easier when advising clients or presenting the case in court.

    Barrister – November 2018
  • There are times when DNA evidence can be a little dry, but Mike Appleby's presentation and delivery to the jury was pitch perfect.

    Barrister, December 2019
  • We have used your services for some time and are very satisfied.

    Solicitor, November 2019
  • Quick, efficient, approachable expert (Mr Fagan), with excellent communication skills.

    Solicitor – January 2018
  • Thank you for writing the report so quickly. Very helpful.

    Solicitor – August 2018
  • Quick telephone answering, excellent understanding of the issues facing us i.e. prior authority, court dates changing at last moment, need for rapid responses.

    Solicitor – December 2018
  • Amazing!

    Counsel – July 2018
  • Please pass on my gratitude to Mr Marryat for being able to compile a report in such a quick turnaround. Much appreciated.

    Solicitor, August 2019
  • I prefer your company because you are relatively local and approachable.

    Solicitor – March 2018
  • The website had all the key words that I was looking to see for an expert in the area of interest.

    Solicitor – October 2018
  • Mr Armstrong was very professional and presented his analysis to the Jury in a very helpful way.

    Barrister – July 2019
  • Friendliness and complete empathy in what was a very stressful situation for me.

    Private client – September 2018
  • We were impressed by the quality of the report and competitive cost.

    Solicitor – July 2018
  • Quick response, easily contactable.  Never had to instruct expert for this type of report and you provided us with all the information to enable us to request the necessary consent from CPS etc.  Very helpful.

    Solicitor – November 2018
  • Mike Prime’s presentation on paper, in conferences and from the witness box was excellent on what is a very difficult and sad case.  My client’s family particularly wished to express their gratitude.  They found that he made “more sense than the prosecution expert”.

    Solicitor – October 2018
  • I was very impressed both with the clarity of Dr Davey’s report to the layperson, and her even-handedness. The objective tone of the report and the fact that the opposing party’s expert agreed with the analysis gave Dr. Davey’s evidence a huge amount of credibility. I would recommend her to anyone in need of similar evidence and have no doubt that her evidence was vital to us winning the case.

    Diarmuid Laffan, Barrister - June 2019
  • Instant reply on whether they can help or not; excellent with keeping us updated; fantastic report.

    Solicitor - April 2018
  • I was delighted by Mrs Tweedy's professional and thorough approach.

    Mr Saltrese - September 2019
  • The prosecutor found Dr Davey's report particularly well considered which undoubtedly informed his decision not to proceed with the case. Can I thank you very much for your help in this matter.

    Solicitor – December 2018
  • Simon Bunter is extraordinarily knowledgeable, remarkably efficient and a wonderful communicator. I cannot recommend him highly enough.

    Barrister, December 2019
  • Ultimately, the mere fact that we had instructed yourselves as experts and the difficulties the police had … in my view went some way towards convincing the CPS that they needed to review the case and ultimately discontinue it.

    Solicitor – April 2018
  • Many years ago, when working for another firm, we regularly consulted yourselves and always received an outstanding service.  It’s good to find that after probably 25+ years, your standards have not slipped.

    Solicitor – March 2018
  • Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. This is exactly what we needed.

    Solicitor – July 2019
  • We were kept updated throughout the process and the report was provided promptly.

    Solicitor, January 2020
  • Prompt and efficient handling of initial enquiries and arrangements to inspect Prosecution exhibits.

    Solicitor - March 2019
  • You are considered the ‘go to’ expert service within our firm.

    Solicitor – January 2018
  • Jenny Gray was excellent and very helpful throughout.

    Barrister, November 2019
  • Known to us as credible experts, who provide a first class service.

    Solicitor – December 2018
  • Brilliant job and response to late and urgent instructions – very much above and beyond what we would expect.

    Solicitor – July 2018
  • Comprehensive and comprehendible expert’s report; first class response to queries.

    Solicitor – December 2018
  • Mrs Allan gave extremely clear evidence.

    Barrister – July 2019
  • Always a pleasure working with you guys; our first choice for instruction.

    Solicitor, November 2019
  • Efficient and helpful in a complex case.

    Solicitor – December 2018
  • Quick and efficient; and well laid out report.

    Solicitor, November 2019
  • I have to thank you for all the help you have given me in preparing for this and in giving your evidence, which I think was very convincing and went a long way to this acquittal. 

    Solicitor - March 2019
  • Service had a quick turnaround and any queries were quickly addressed.

    Solicitor - March 2019
  • Great communication and updates.

    Solicitor – December 2018
  • Mr Farley was exceptionally good in the witness box and very robust under cross examination. I would not hesitate to instruct him again.

    Counsel – May 2018
  • Overall helpful and efficient service.

    Solicitor, September 2019
  • Found the service to be extremely helpful, given the timeframe in which the report was required.

    Solicitor, January 2020
  • We would be extremely grateful if you could thank Ms Gray again for her incredible report.

    Solicitor - March 2019
  • Dr Helen Davey was, as always, excellent. From her initial report to her attendance at a conference and court. Her expertise is apparent and her ability to explain difficult issues is outstanding.

    Counsel – August 2018
  • Outstanding.  Mr Prime was conscious of duty but compelling in his approach to the evidence.

    Counsel – April 2018
  • You have always been excellent.

    Solicitor – May 2018
  • After the initial phone call, I knew I had contacted the right organisation.  The report just reaffirmed what I already knew.

    Solicitor – October 2018
  • Excellent communication, timescales met despite difficulties with police & CPS.

    Solicitor – November 2018
  • Thank you very, very much - impeccable service as per usual.

    Solicitor – April 2018
  • I cannot speak more highly of the quality of the report.  Mr Prime is now my ‘go to’ expert.

    Solicitor – September 2018
  • I have instructed you for many years and always find yourselves to be helpful, efficient and reports are prepared in an easy to digest format.

    Solicitor, October 2019
  • We have worked with you for a number of years and find your work accurate and reliable.

    Solicitor – April 2018
  • The service Ryan Knight provided was excellent.

    Solicitor – January 2018
  • Please thank Richard Brown very much for the rapid turn round of this report.

    Solicitor – March 2018
  • Helen Davey’s report is excellent, as are all the reports that she has written for us.  She is always very willing to provide advice and answer questions and is also a very nice person.

    Solicitor – July 2018
  • Please thank Orla Sower for her excellent work on this case.

    Solicitor – November 2018
  • We compared you with another less costly service, but considered you to be more professional.

    Solicitor – February 2018
  • We were kept continually up to date about the progress of the report.

    Solicitor – May 2018
  • I found the service to be very professional throughout.

    Solicitor, October 2019
  • Extremely good customer service and continuous contact/support.

    Solicitor, November 2019
  • Very quick response to both our initial email enquiry and all emails. Helpful and approachable staff and experts.

    Solicitor – August 2018
  • Prompt provision of report and prompt reply to queries.

    Solicitor, November 2019
  • Have used many times previously and always been extremely satisfied with the service and reports.

    Solicitor – November 2018
  • Easy to use BAC calculation form, fast turn around.

    Solicitor, September 2019
  • Report prepared well and is a format we could understand. Written in a way that the lay person can understand.

    Solicitor – June 2018
  • Mr Cook’s report was easy to follow for those who are not experts in this field and explained the method and conclusion fully.

    Solicitor – October 2018
  • We did a generic Google trawl and ‘short-listed’ you because of your experience/credentials but (having contacted others) selected you because you were efficient, quick off the mark and personable.

    Private Client – April 2018
  • Mr Bunter was fantastic.

    Solicitor – February 2018
  • Superb outcome in the case ... as a direct result of Mr Prime discussing matters with his counterpart.  Very, very impressive.  Good, too, with the client.

    Counsel – April 2018
  • Your report is fantastic and much appreciated.

    Private client - April 2019
  • Very good testimony on all accounts; measured and reasonable.  There is nothing I would change about Mr Dunnill’s evidence or manner in giving it.

    Counsel - January 2018
  • Mr Appleby was truly excellent. While giving evidence it was plain that he has achieved the perfect blend of clarity and authoritative charisma.

    Barrister, December 2019
  • Mr Brown and the work he did were excellent in every respect.  We are grateful to him for his prompt and professional assistance.

    Solicitor – September 2018
  • I found the quality of the report very high, and I am aware that Dr Davey had to work hard to hit the deadline because of other commitments.

    Solicitor – January 2019
  • Prompt and reliable service.

    Solicitor – October 2018
  • Both our client and I were very impressed by your expert evidence. I will be singing your praises for years to come.

    Solicitor – July 2019
  • Clear information about cost, speed and efficiency of report.

    Solicitor - March 2019
  • May we thank Mrs Allan for an excellent report.

    Solicitor – March 2018
  • Extremely quick and efficient.

    Solicitor – September 2018
  • I can say that I am very satisfied with the service I have received from KBC, starting with my initial phone call and interaction your colleague when I made my initial enquiry, right up to the report being received. I would certainly use KBC again and would recommend you to my colleagues.

    Solicitor, January 2020
  • Excellent reputation.

    Solicitor – May 2018
  • Used you many times previously and the service is always exceptional.

    Solicitor – January 2018
  • Alan Henderson was a very knowledgeable witness, clearly very familiar with his subject matter and capable of explaining it too. I would not hesitate to use him in the future.

    Barrister, August 2019
  • Very quick, very clear report.  Excellent service at all times.

    Solicitor – March 2018
  • Helpful, speedy and good quality.

    Solicitor – May 2019
  • Mike Appleby's exceptional quality was noted by all of the Counsel involved in the case. It is always a pleasure to watch someone, who is good at something, doing it and doing it well.

    Barrister, December 2019
  • Richard Brown’s knowledge of the subject matter was excellent, his report clear and detailed, and his explanations … instilled confidence.  I would happily use him again.

    Counsel – February 2018
  • I would like to thank you both for all your help on this case, and the tasks you had to perform at short notice.  Your assistance was greatly appreciated.

    Solicitor - May 2019
  • Excellent service from Alan Henderson and his report assisted me in cross examining the Crown witness.

    Solicitor – May 2018
  • The attention to detail in Mr Tarpey’s preparation and his knowledge of the case shone through when he was cross-examined.

    Senior Counsel – February 2018
  • Quick, efficient and professional.

    Solicitor - February 2019

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