Science and Technology Select Committee
Forensic science and the criminal justice system: a blueprint for change

3rd Report of Session 2017-19 - published 1 May 2019 - HL Paper 333



Chapter 1: Introduction


Figure 1: Forensic science from crime scene to court

The state of forensic science

Our inquiry

Structure of this report

Chapter 2: Oversight, leadership and responsibility

Culture and environment

Piecemeal governance and oversight of forensic science

Police and forensic science service-provider fragmentation

Research inadequacy

Value of forensic science

Oversight, responsibility and accountability

Chapter 3: The forensic science market

The shape of the current market

Tendering and procurement

Commoditised procurement

Managed service procurement

Terms and conditions of contracts

Other features of procurement contracts

Effect of procurement models on smaller and niche service providers

Options for different procurement models

Forensic Science Market Regulator

Chapter 4: Ensuring trust in forensic science


The place for accreditation: ISO 17020 and ISO 17025

Digital forensics

Effect on small and niche providers

Accrediting individuals

Accreditation of police forces

Forensic Science Regulator

Skills and training

Chapter 5: The use of forensic science in the criminal justice system

Discrepancies between prosecution and defence provision

Legal aid

Understanding of forensic science in the criminal justice system

Lawyers and judges

The ‘CSI effect’

Streamlined Forensic Reporting

Digital evidence

Chapter 6: Research and development

Scientific basis for forensic science

Forensic science analysis methods and ‘source attribution’

Forensic science interpretation: assessing the ‘activity level’

Forensic science interpretation: human judgement and decision making

Research and development


Research by commercial providers

Research gaps

Digital forensics

A new strategic research body

Summary of conclusions and recommendations

Appendix 1: List of Members and declarations of interest

Appendix 2: List of witnesses

Appendix 3: Call for evidence

Appendix 4: Seminar held at the House of Lords on 4 September 2018

Appendix 5: Committee visit to Metropolitan Police, Directorate of Forensic Services on 16 October 2018

Evidence is published online at and available for inspection at the Parliamentary Archives (020 7219 3074).

Q in footnotes refers to a question in oral evidence.

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