“Forensic Science England and Wales is in a state of crisis and must be reformed urgently, Lords Committee says” was the media notice headline following the recent House of Lords inquiry into Forensic Science (https://www.parliament.uk/forensic-science-lords-inquiry). Delve deeper into the report and comments such as “The quality and delivery of forensic science in England and Wales is inadequate” and “Fair access to justice for defendants is further hampered by cuts to legal aid” leap from the page. All in all, the report paints a pretty bleak picture of the current forensic science landscape.
It is fair to say that over the last decade or so forensic science provision in England and Wales has undergone a dramatic transformation, driven in part by the collapse of the Forensic Science Service, but also through austerity and an increased demand for expedience. In some respects change has been to the benefit of the criminal justice system, but in others it has not. Fragmentation of provision, inequality in results standards and misuse/misunderstanding of short form reports have become a recurring theme; at best reducing the scientific evidence that the criminal justice system can access and at worst exposing it to unnecessary risk.
As with anyone who works within the criminal justice system, we at Keith Borer Consultants have experienced the pressures of the changing marketplace. Our response to this has always been positive; tailoring our products and services to ensuring that customers can access what they need when they need it. Whilst the House of Lords report recognises a need for reform of legal aid, until this happens our commitment remains as it always has; to provide high quality, expeditious consultancy in a wide range of scientific, engineering and digital disciplines. In doing so we will continue to do our best to ensure that a ‘crisis’ does not become a ‘disaster’.