Forensic Equity

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Forensic Equity's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Forensic Equity is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

www.forensicequity.com

THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
30 | FORENSIC EQUITY
Simon Franc, CEO
The importance of sound
evidence recovery
Forensic Equity Ltd is an independent forensic science service
provider. Its role is simple: ensuring that forensic evidence
presented in criminal cases is both fair and accurate. CEO
Simon Franc explains that, in essence, this means that courts can
be safe in his team’s knowledge. Simon tells
TheParliamentary
Review
that Forensic Equity has departments that cover all
major forensic disciplines, and that the team’s daily mission is to
analyse and interpret criminal evidence with a view to delivering
equality of science across the UK justice system.
With rising crime rates, redistribution of police resources and a concerning
prolonged period of underinvestment in forensic science, our role as an independent
voice is more important than ever. We nurture a culture of inquisition, critical
thought and alternative perspective. Robust science can only be obtained via critical
consideration of all possibilities. One must consider, for example, not just whose
DNA may be present but also just how it may have been deposited. Our scientists
hold an unrivalled level of experience and expertise in their respective fields, having
all given a wealth of evidence in cases, not just nationally but alsointernationally.
Why private forensic science providers are so integral to good
forensic science
The recently publicised issues regarding forensic evidence and disclosure have been
widely circulated, not least in the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee’s
inquiry into the state of forensic science today. Examples in the media and within this
published inquiry are simply a small proportion of the total cases in which failings have
FACTS ABOUT
FORENSIC EQUITY
»CEO: Simon Franc
»Established in 2010
»Based in Manchester, London,
Cambridge and Berkshire
»Services: Forensic science
provider
»No. of employees: 70
Forensic Equity
BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
30 | FORENSIC EQUITY
Simon Franc, CEO
The importance of sound
evidence recovery
Forensic Equity Ltd is an independent forensic science service
provider. Its role is simple: ensuring that forensic evidence
presented in criminal cases is both fair and accurate. CEO
Simon Franc explains that, in essence, this means that courts can
be safe in his team’s knowledge. Simon tells
TheParliamentary
Review
that Forensic Equity has departments that cover all
major forensic disciplines, and that the team’s daily mission is to
analyse and interpret criminal evidence with a view to delivering
equality of science across the UK justice system.
With rising crime rates, redistribution of police resources and a concerning
prolonged period of underinvestment in forensic science, our role as an independent
voice is more important than ever. We nurture a culture of inquisition, critical
thought and alternative perspective. Robust science can only be obtained via critical
consideration of all possibilities. One must consider, for example, not just whose
DNA may be present but also just how it may have been deposited. Our scientists
hold an unrivalled level of experience and expertise in their respective fields, having
all given a wealth of evidence in cases, not just nationally but alsointernationally.
Why private forensic science providers are so integral to good
forensic science
The recently publicised issues regarding forensic evidence and disclosure have been
widely circulated, not least in the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee’s
inquiry into the state of forensic science today. Examples in the media and within this
published inquiry are simply a small proportion of the total cases in which failings have
FACTS ABOUT
FORENSIC EQUITY
»CEO: Simon Franc
»Established in 2010
»Based in Manchester, London,
Cambridge and Berkshire
»Services: Forensic science
provider
»No. of employees: 70
Forensic Equity
31FORENSIC EQUITY |
HEALTH & SOCIAL WORK
occurred. The questions we have to ask
ourselves, however, are why have such
issues arisen, and how do we resolve
the situation to ensure a fair, efficient
and effective criminal justice system in
which we can have confidence? After
all, the overriding objective of the CJS
is to acquit the innocent and convict
the guilty.
At the present time, private forensic
science providers are the only party that
check the evidence presented by the
prosecution and ensure that evidence
has been collected and preserved
correctly. Thereafter, they ensure that
the interpretation of that evidence is
safe, correct and scientifically sound.
It is indeed the PFSPs who uncover
the errors and the gaps in the forensic
evidence on a case-by-case basis;
this job is not done by the regulator
or by any accreditation body. We, as
a sector, are the only independent,
scientifically competent stakeholder in
the CJS to see and review the entire
case being presented. Crucially, at all
other points, only fragments are seen.
The current issues that PFSPs face, in
their ability to properly carry out their
function of checking evidence, range
from the processing of evidence to
obtaining disclosure, and experiencing
systemic bias.
Without the effective contribution
of the PFSPs, these are all issues that
would go unchecked and which
would ultimately lead to a significant
degradation in the functioning of
ourCJS.
Issues with accreditation as a
blunt instrument
Recent proposed legislation has seen
the Forensic Science Regulator ask for
statutory powers in order that they,
together with the United Kingdom
Accreditation Service, can enforce
further blanket regulation and so-
called qualitystandards.
The proposal is to regulate at such a
granular level that the associated costs
are, at present, enormous – estimated
to be between 15 and 20 per cent of a
provider’s revenues.
Such a proposal seems to be
completely counterintuitive to the
concerns raised and acknowledged
by the sitting regulator, Dr Tully,
when she appeared in front of the
Science and Technology Committee
in February 2018. It was agreed that
there were significant concerns around
the sustainability of the market,
particularly in relation to the continuity
of supply and to the retention of
sufficient expertise within the field, Supporting women in
senior management
positions
How do we
resolve the
situation to
ensure a fair,
efficient and
effective
criminal justice
system in
which we can
have
confidence?
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
32 | FORENSIC EQUITY
with scientists having been made
redundant time and time again.
Yet the drive for statutory powers,
and the proposed use of such powers,
to impose effective tariffs on the
provision of forensic science services is
likely to make previously commercially
viable entities providing important
and critical expertise to the CJS no
longerviable.
While we, as a major forensic science
provider, are supportive of the
sentiment of accreditation, in the
form currently outlined, the further
“downstream” regulations proposed
place an unduly heavy burden on the
private providers that second check
the evidence, without this same heavy
hand coming down on the police in-
house laboratories.
The very real danger is that we will
be left with the police instructing the
police, paid for by the police. All of
the inherent bias intrinsic to such a
system, without any form of effective
independent review of the evidence
and opinion that they choose to
present. The cost of enforcing further
regulation on the PFSPs would likely
result in most, if not all, entities no
longer being commercially viable.
Investing in quality
Despite spending in forensic science
having reduced significantly since
2010, Forensic Equity has continued to
invest in our employees to guarantee
the provision of the highest-quality
science, which has resulted in
businessgrowth.
Forensic Equity works with a wide
range of criminal solicitors from both
the prosecution and defence. With
premises in Greater Manchester,
Cambridge, London and Berkshire, we
are always creating new and exciting
professional relationships across the UK.
Those solicitors with whom we work
value our candid and clear approach
to the presentation of complex issues
and, above all, the unrivalled level
of exceptional science. With a client
retention rate of 95 per cent, we prove
our value from case tocase.
As a result of our investment in quality
from 2017 to 2018, Forensic Equity
grew by 30 per cent and in 2018/19 by
54 per cent.
The future for forensic equity
It is our fundamental belief that
maintaining a CJS that is not
just superficially fair but is also
fundamentally sound is the bedrock of
the UK’s legal system. This unparalleled
framework is undoubtedly one of the
reasons why the UK experiences such
large volumes of inward investment on
which our economy flourishes.
This is why government policy must
be to invest in quality science. It is our
intention to continue not only to invest
in our people but also to lead research
and development. It is only through
doing this that we can properly and
effectively ensure our system does not
stagnate but continues to progress
as a world leader in justice supported
byscience.
Those
solicitors with
whom we
work value
our candid
and clear
approach to
the
presentation
of complex
issues and,
above all, the
unrivalled level
of exceptional
science
Providing scientific
services in the most
complex of cases

www.forensicequity.com

This article was sponsored by Forensic Equity. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.



Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development