Serious crimes are going unsolved and innocent people are being wrongly convicted due to a “crisis” in the forensic science industry in England and Wales, a damning report has found.
Lords on the Science and Technology Committee have warned that “justice will be in jeopardy” unless there is a radical overhaul in the quality and delivery of the service.
Forensic evidence, which can include everything from fingerprints to complex DNA profiles, constitutes a major part of modern criminal investigations and can be crucial to the success of a prosecution.
But seven years after the Forensic Science Service was privatised amid concerns over efficiency, the system has been described as being in complete crisis, with a lack of funding and an absence of leadership contributing to the problems.
In 2008 national spending on the forensic science service totalled £120 million, but last year that had fallen to just £50 million.
Lord Patel, the chair of the committee, said the issues Peers had identified meant it was “hard to have complete confidence that every criminal investigation was pursued with the correct degree of scrutiny”.