Forensic Science: Registration

Home Department written question – answered on 21st April 2008.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of David Ruffley David Ruffley Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what her Department's policy is on the compulsory registration of forensic science practitioners; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Meg Hillier Meg Hillier Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) (Identity)

Mandatory registration with the Council for the Registration of Forensic Practitioners was recommended in the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology Report "Forensic Science on Trial" (see recommendation 43 at paragraph 139), published 29 March 2005. The response of Her Majesty's Government to that recommendation was as follows:

"It would not be appropriate for the Government to mandate registration with a private organisation. The criminal justice system must have access to appropriate expert testimony to ensure it reaches the correct decision. The use of a mandatory registration scheme would prevent appropriate experts from giving testimony in a number of circumstances, for example where the required expert does not normally work within the forensic arena and is therefore not registered. Another example might be that the required expert may work within the forensic arena but, perhaps due to working in research and development, does not carry out sufficient casework to be registered. The required expert may not work within the UK, or expertise may be required in a subject which rarely comes before the court. It therefore seems more sensible to have a scheme whereby the registration is voluntary. Where someone seeks to appear as an expert witness in an area where registration is available but they are not registered, this will highlight to the judge the need to consider carefully whether their testimony should be admitted and, if so, on what basis."

My right hon. Friend, the Home Secretary, continues to endorse this view and has recently appointed Mr Andrew Rennison as the Forensic Science Regulator. The Regulator will provide advice on issues surrounding individual competence for forensic science practitioners—including registration. The Government will review the position in due course.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes2 people think so

No1 person thinks not

Would you like to ask a question like this yourself? Use our Freedom of Information site.