To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to Recommendation 21 of the Third Report of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee’s report, Forensic science and the criminal justice system: a blueprint for change, published on 1 May 2020, HL Paper 333, what recent discussions she has had with forensic science stakeholders on the potential merits of establishing a Forensic Science Institute; and what the outcome of those discussions was.
21 October 2020
My officials have been working closely with colleagues across Government as well as the forensic science sector to ensure that policing and the CJS benefits from advances in science and technology by developing and implementing new forensic techniques more coherently. The Home Office and the Ministry of Justice have strengthened further our working relationship with UKRI as we work with them and other strategic partners including providing funding for the police-led Forensic Capability Network to develop and set the research priorities for forensic science research and development.
The Forensic Capability Network have been working with user communities to identify what they need from the research system, and what changes are needed as well as interrogating existing links and resources to understand the extent to which the current system is ready to meet user needs. The Forensic Capability Network is actively identifying, the connections, infrastructures, or programmes in order to develop, support and coordinate research for the justice system.
A Science for the Justice System Advisory Group has also been established, working with a UKRI project to devise options for future mechanisms to effectively and efficiently coordinate forensic science in the UK. Initial consultation with key stakeholders has identified common areas of research need, and mapping of relevant UKRI investments has also been undertaken to support ongoing development of funding and coordination options to ensure research can better meet different forms of user need.
Considerations of the case for a National Institute are ongoing, but we consider work in progress to represent a significant step in the right direction and will continue to monitor progress at the Criminal Justice Board (CJB) Forensics Sub-Group.