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Minimum standards in forensics will help radically transform the way digital evidence is used in a criminal case.

07-Feb-2017 by: Carol Jenkins, The Investigator

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Prior to taking up the mantle of Forensic Regulator in 2014, Dr Tully racked up an impressive 25 years as a forensic scientist working first at the now defunct Forensic Science Service and latterly for a private company.

She observes that the majority of her career, much of which was spent at the coalface in laboratories working on criminal cases, has been spent devoted to introducing quality systems.

“Assuring the quality of provision of forensic science is something that has been very important to me throughout my career,” she explained.

This resolute focus on the importance of quality and minimum standards now makes her best placed to drive the implementation of ISO17025 – the digital forensic standard.

Accredited by UKAS, the standard will introduce quality frameworks with the aim of trying to continuously improve procedures for in-house police labs and standardise the processing of digital evidence.

The rationale behind the standards is to ensure that all digital evidence is robust enough to withstand scrutiny in court and ensure justice is safeguarded.

Deadlines

Adoption of the standard is non-negotiable and forces are now working towards a number of critical milestones. The race is on for the deadlines to be met – with the deadline for digital forensics scheduled for October 2017.

The rationale behind the timing of the standards is two-fold according to Dr Tully. “It absolutely an important time for quality and that is because there is a varied landscape of different people doing forensic science,” she explained.

“But it’s also because forensic science itself is probably under pressure more than it’s been in recent years.”

She cites this as being because of the rapid expansion of digital forensics and its growing importance as evidence in criminal cases as well as pressure on costs. The service has borne the brunt of eight years of budget cuts that has required it to completely review and revise its working practices and provision of forensic services has not been exempt from this work.

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