Home Office and Justice Ministers to face questions on the UK’s fragile forensic science market and its effect on the Criminal Justice System

On Tuesday 29th January the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee will question representatives from the Home Office, including Rt Hon Nick Hurd MP, and Lucy Frazer QC MP from the Ministry of Justice on the UK’s use of forensic science in criminal investigations.

The Committee has heard concerning evidence that there are differing levels of scientific understanding within the Criminal Justice System by lawyers, judges and jurors on the use of forensic evidence but also a lack of progress in ensuring the UK is equipped with the highest possible standards of forensic science.

The Committee will ask for updates on what their Departments are doing to ensure the quality of forensic science is effective across all areas of the criminal justice system and will quiz Ministers on their plans to stabilise the forensic science market.

The evidence session will begin at 3.30pm in Committee Room 4A of the House of Lords. Giving evidence will be:

  • The Rt Hon Nick Hurd MP, Minister of State, Home Office
  • Professor John Aston, Chief Scientific Adviser, Home Office
  • Christophe Prince, Director of Data and Identity within the Crime, Policing and Fire Group, Home Office.

The Second session will begin at 4:30pm and the Committee will question:

  • Lucy Frazer QC MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice
  • Fiona Rutherford, Deputy Director of Legal Aid Strategy and Policy, Ministry of Justice
  • Matthew Gould, Deputy Director of Criminal Courts and Criminal Law Policy, Ministry of Justice.

Questions likely to be asked during the sessions include:

  • Has the introduction of mandatory training in scientific principles such as probability for legal professionals been considered?
  • Has the market model of provision of forensic services destabilised effective provision of forensic science to the Criminal Justice System?
  • What guidance has been provided to judges about the timescales needed to analyse digital evidence?
  • Why has no progress been made on providing the Forensic Science Regulator with statutory powers?
  • What are you doing to work with UKRI to provide adequate and strategic support for research and development into forensic science?

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