HMICS Thematic Inspection of Scottish Forensic Services
HMICS published the outputs of its thematic inspection of the Scottish Police Authority Forensic Services.
At the end of June Her Majesty‚Äôs Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) published the outputs of its thematic inspection of the Scottish Police Authority Forensic Services.
Within Scotland there is a single national service for forensic science. This provides quite a different picture when compared with England and Wales which is a patchwork of private providers and in house police labs. However, the report demonstrates that the challenges with workload and funding, often spoken about in England and Wales are also causing problems in Scotland.
The report highlighted a number of strengths within the service such as the introduction and accreditation of DNA 24 chemistries and STRmix, but also has a number of criticisms and recommendations, including stating that ‚Äòthere has been no strategy in place for the delivery of forensic services in Scotland for over four years.‚Äô
One of the key recommendations was that ‚Äòthe Scottish Police Authority and Scottish Government should engage in the implementation of the Home Office Forensic Science Strategy to inform the approach in Scotland, explore common standards and support future interoperability.‚Äô There would definitely be advantages to including Scotland when looking at the Strategy and encouraging cross border collaboration as criminals don‚Äôt respect borders. However, given the mixed response to the Home Office Strategy from the forensic science community it is uncertain what the level of enthusiasm from Scotland would be.
The report also suggests that SPA could look to monetise the expertise within forensic services. This would bring in additional revenue and hopefully ease budget constraints, however as another section of the report described casework backlogs an increase in staffing levels and streamlining of processes would most likely be required before something like this could be implemented.
Many news outlets immediately focused on the lack of strategy finding however, it is important to note that the quality of forensic science is not in question and in several disciplines the Scottish Police Authority is leading the way in implementing and accrediting the latest technology.
It remains to be seen what the long term impacts of this report will be, but it highlights that funding levels, staffing levels and governance are key issues regardless of whether the forensic science providers are nationalised or private.
To read the full report click here.