Skip to main content
 
 
 

Forensic Science in Crisis – how it occurs

Forensic Science in Crisis – how it occurs

Current criticism of the provision of forensic science in England/Wales deserves some examples.  Here are three recent ones that are representative of the sort of detrimental consequences of government policies and police practices that now afflict so many cases.

Case 1

A sex worker alleged that she escorted two men into an alley to discuss prices.  One male grabbed her head and neck, attempted to unbutton her trousers and put his hand inside her top.  She screamed and two passing officers apprehended the males.  They were charged with assault and their clothing was seized.  One male was found to have a condom on his penis.  He stated that he was having sexual intercourse with the complainant when she screamed and so he moved away just before he was apprehended.

The condom was initially submitted to a prosecution forensic service provider who advised that analysis could only benefit the defence.  On request it was returned unexamined to the police.  Release for forensic examination commissioned by the defence was prevented, but it was re-submitted to the prosecution forensic provider. 

A particularly high quantity of DNA was recovered from material that included the type of cells that can be found lining a vagina and this gave a strong DNA profile matching the complainant.  Exactly what would be expected if they had sexual intercourse.

Appreciation of the evidential value of this result was then neutralised by an evaluation statement commissioned by the prosecution, that made no mention of the defendant’s account or that the results might support that account, but did assert that they could be explained by indirect transfer of her DNA to the condom via his hands; the implication being that the results fitted with the allegations.  A clear example of bias caused by inaccurate expert evaluation of forensic test results.  Evaluation should consider the likelihood of obtaining these results against both accounts, not simply provide an excuse for a result that does not support a prosecution.  But also misleading in itself, because the very high quantity of recovered DNA (more than on the reference mouth swab) made it extremely unlikely that the result could have occurred via the suggested secondary transfer.

It took an unnecessarily long journey to produce one DNA profile that was accepted to be very much more likely from defendant’s account than the allegations.

Case 2

In another recent case involving sexual activity between two teenagers on a grassy/muddy area, considerable forensic effort was put into testing intimate swabs and knickers for semen, despite there being no suggestion of ejaculation in either account.  Failure to detect any semen was therefore not surprising.  There were distinct differences between the accounts of how they knelt and lay on the ground, giving entirely different expectations for where mud stains might be on their clothing.  Considerable time, effort, expense and a court order were required to establish the merits of a forensic strategy that identified this examination as probative, with the work eventually commissioned by the defence and paid for via Legal Aid.  The results provided clear support for one of the accounts, but it still required the case to proceed to trial for resolution.

Case 3

A man was arrested for punching his estranged partner to the face and his jumper was seized as an exhibit because it appeared blood stained.  He accepted that he punched her because she was attacking him with kitchen knives, including stabbing or attempting to stab him to the back.  A simple ‘domestic’ which apparently did not warrant any forensic examination.  Initially there was considerable reluctance to release the jumper for examination, on the basis that its relevance to the charge was not understood.  Four clear stab cuts to the back of the jumper established its relevance.

How can it possibly be in the interests of quality justice to allow cases like these to proceed to court without even basic forensic expert input to answer the most obvious questions that Counsel or the jury might ask?

How can it possibly in the interests of victims to require them to give evidence at court, when probative forensic examinations frequently result in earlier resolution?

The victim of a false sexual allegation is the victim of a crime; a simple role reversal from the circumstances if the allegation was true.  How can it possibly be in the interests of justice to investigate only one account and resist as far as possible any forensic examinations that might provide contradictory evidence?  The DPP’s declared desire to increase convictions for sexual offences should be based on balanced and thorough investigation, not reliance on bias.

How can it possibly be cost effective to public funds, to delay these examinations, resist them or pass on the responsibility, or then try to circumvent their evidential impact?  These all delay justice.

The detrimental effects of the current crisis, in reduced cost effectiveness, inaccurate evidential impact and ineffective use of forensic science are obvious to any informed forensic practitioner and, in my experience, to many defence lawyers.  Repair of the system may require more resources, but more urgently it requires a strategy to improve collective effectiveness of all the fragmented and parochial components.  If it continues to be a battle between agencies to stretch their budgets as far as possible, the effect will continue to be wasted effort and expense; the collateral damage being that victims of crime and defendants are let down in greater numbers.

Dr Duncan Woods, Chief Scientist, Keith Borer Consultants

Subscribe To Mailing List

To unsubscribe click here

What our customers say...

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

    Private client - March 2019
  • I have had the pleasure of the assistance of Mike Appleby on a number of occasions now and he is an excellent man to have around. 

    Counsel, March 2020
  • Mr Armstrong impressed throughout the trial as a real expert in his field. It was apparent too that Mr Armstrong was entirely impartial.

    Counsel, March 2020
  • Consistently reliable. Reports are very easy to read.

    Solicitor – July 2019
  • 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
  • I was told you were the best at what you did. I honestly believe I got what was required.

    Private client, July 2020
  • Eager to assist at very short notice and very helpful on the phone.

    Solicitor – May 2019
  • Complete satisfaction with services.

    Solicitor, September 2019
  • Communication and speed of delivery of information was, as always, excellent.

    Solicitor, April 2020
  • 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
  • Mr Dampier made an incredibly complicated matter easy to understand.

    Barrister, February 2020
  • Efficient and helpful in a complex case.

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

    Barrister, November 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
  • Very quick turnaround, with attention to detail and helpful comments.

    Solicitor, January 2020
  • Excellent, as usual.

    Solicitor, September 2020
  • Known to us as credible experts, who provide a first class service.

    Solicitor – December 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
  • Quick, efficient service and a well-prepared report.

    Solicitor, July 2020
  • Service had a quick turnaround and any queries were quickly addressed.

    Solicitor - March 2019
  • 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
  • Just a very high quality, professional service.

    Solicitor, December 2019
  • Prompt and Professional and produces excellent reports.

    Solicitor, September 2020
  • 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
  • Prompt provision of report and prompt reply to queries.

    Solicitor, November 2019
  • I chose this company, as the first point of contact was extremely helpful.

    Private instruction, September 2020
  • 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
  • I was delighted by Mrs Tweedy's professional and thorough approach.

    Mr Saltrese - September 2019
  • Your service was exemplary.

    Solicitor – January 2019
  • I was able to have a meaningful conversation with a specialist when obtaining a quote for the work.

    Solicitor, June 2020
  • 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
  • Easy to use BAC calculation form, fast turn around.

    Solicitor, September 2019
  • 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
  • Your report is fantastic and much appreciated.

    Private client - April 2019
  • Brilliant communication, my emails were promptly answered.

    Private instruction, September 2020
  • Extremely prompt service.

    Solicitor – July 2019
  • Prompt attention to dealing with queries and providing information and reports.

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

    Solicitor - March 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
  • Clear information about cost, speed and efficiency of report.

    Solicitor - March 2019
  • A thorough analysis, with well set out conclusions.

    Solicitor, July 2020
  • Thank you for your hard work in this case and for the prompt responses. 

    Barrister, March 2020
  • Extremely good customer service and continuous contact/support.

    Solicitor, November 2019
  • 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
  • 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
  • Karl Ebejer was always prompt with responses and was very helpful.

    Solicitor, August 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
  • 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
  • I am very impressed by your service.

    Solicitor, February 2020
  • Mr Prime reported to us with great efficiency and presented his evidence to the Jury in an extremely persuasive manner.

    Counsel, March 2020
  • Service was excellent throughout.

    Solicitor, August 2020
  • 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
  • There is no question that your input was instrumental in persuading the Defendants to alter their stance.

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

    Solicitor - March 2019
  • Many thanks for your very helpful and professional report.

    Solicitor – June 2019
  • I will definitely use Dr Schudel in the future and will be recommending him to my colleagues.

    Counsel, March 2020
  • Swift service.

    Solicitor, March 2020
  • I found the service to be very professional throughout.

    Solicitor, October 2019
  • We have always received professional and high standards of services. Reports are produced promptly and communications responded to without delay.

    Solicitor, September 2020
  • Knowledgeable, helpful and polite.

    Solicitor, June 2020
  • 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
  • It is always easy to contact KBC and to get a prompt reply.

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

    Barrister, December 2019
  • Mr Armstrong was very professional and presented his analysis to the Jury in a very helpful way.

    Barrister – July 2019
  • Clear communication, very good advice, good quality of forensic report.

    Solicitor – January 2019
  • Helpful, speedy and good quality.

    Solicitor – May 2019
  • 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
  • Good service, prompt, efficient, have used many times in the past.

    Solicitor, April 2020
  • Mrs Allan gave extremely clear evidence.

    Barrister – July 2019
  • Value for money.

    Solicitor, May 2020
  • Really happy with all aspects of this case and would definitely recommend this company. Thank you.

    Private instruction, September 2020
  • We have used your services for some time and are very satisfied.

    Solicitor, November 2019
  • Easy access to experts; excellent communication and advice, as required.

    Solicitor, September 2020
  • Quick and efficient; and well laid out report.

    Solicitor, November 2019
  • Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. This is exactly what we needed.

    Solicitor – July 2019
  • Have used Keith Borer in the past for many different types of reports and would do so again.

    Solicitor – December 2018
  • Quick, professional, friendly, comprehensive.

    Prison Governor, June 2020
  • No question was too silly and everything was explained so clearly and easily; great customer service.

    Private instruction, September 2020
  • 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
  • Excellent reports within Legal Aid rates.

    Solicitor, November 2019
  • Easy to contact, quick responses (particularly in the current circumstances), very helpful staff.

    Solicitor, April 2020
  • Reasonably priced compared to other experts.

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

    Solicitor, November 2019
  • Comprehensive and comprehendible expert’s report; first class response to queries.

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

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

    Solicitor, January 2020
  • Quick, expert and accurate.

    Solicitor, July 2020
  • Mr Beatson was very helpful and professional, clearly with a wide range of knowledge and understanding.

    Solicitor, March 2020
  • Great communication and updates.

    Solicitor – December 2018
  • Regular contact, advice on hand via phone if necessary, prompt and efficient.

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

    Solicitor, August 2020
  • Quality service, helpful staff, prompt reports.  Our company has used Keith Borer Consultants for many years.

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

    Solicitor, January 2020
  • Jenny Gray acted with the utmost integrity throughout. This was noted in open court by the judge hearing the case.

    Solicitor, October 2019
  • Mr Brown was an impressive witness. As far as I am concerned, you can give him full marks all round.

    Counsel, March 2020
  • Quick, efficient and professional.

    Solicitor - February 2019
  • Very fast, professional, easy to instruct.

    Solicitor, November 2019
  • We are very grateful to Mr Marryat for all the hard work he has done for us.

    Solicitor – June 2019
  • Efficient and very responsive.

    Solicitor - April 2019
  • We find you reliable and expeditious.

    Solicitor – July 2019
  • Overall helpful and efficient service.

    Solicitor, September 2019
  • Fast service; timely response to communication.

    Solicitor, January 2020
  • Excellent client care and service.

    Solicitor, August 2020
  • Simon Bunter is extraordinarily knowledgeable, remarkably efficient and a wonderful communicator. I cannot recommend him highly enough.

    Barrister, December 2019
  • Always try to instruct, if possible, due to excellent service provided.

    Solicitor, September 2019
  • We have used KBC on many occasions in the past and have always had a reliable service.

    Solicitor, April 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