The House of Lords select committee for Science and Technology has today released its report on ‘Forensic Science’. The report highlights the increasing importance of digital forensics and digital evidence in criminal trials.

Commenting on the report, Dr Sarah Morris, Senior Lecturer in Forensic Computing at Cranfield University who gave evidence in front of the select committee said: “It is vital for the criminal justice system that digital forensics keeps pace with the latest technological developments.

“Digital forensics is a fast-paced field where each device, each software update and each operating system can have a significant impact, not only on the types of artefacts available, but also their meaning. The committee has rightly identified the gaps in understanding between forensic specialists and the legal profession. Too often, too much pressure is put on digital forensic investigators to conclude their investigations. There needs to be a greater understanding of the timescales involved to conduct a thorough analysis.

“The committee’s call for increased understanding of the field within the legal profession, increased research provision and greater collaboration between the various forensic science professionals is very welcome, and I hope that the Home Office considers its recommendations and responds positively to them.”

Launching the committee’s report, Lord Patel, Chairman of the committee, said: “A free society is dependent on the rule of law which in turn relies on equality of access to justice. Simultaneous budget cuts and reorganisation, together with exponential growth in the need for new services such as digital evidence has put forensic science providers under extreme pressure. The result is a forensic science market which, unless properly regulated, will soon suffer the shocks of major forensic science providers going out of business and putting justice in jeopardy.

“The situation we are in cannot continue. Since 2012 the Home Office has made empty promises to give the Forensic Science Regulator statutory powers but still no action has been taken. We believe that seven years is an embarrassing amount of time to delay legislation; our forensic science provision has now reached breaking point and a complete overhaul is needed.

“If our recommendations are implemented and the Government adequately invests in forensic science, our forensic science market can return to a world-leading position.”