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The Practicalities of Forensic Science Provision to the Criminal Justice System.

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Presentation on theme: "The Practicalities of Forensic Science Provision to the Criminal Justice System."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Practicalities of Forensic Science Provision to the Criminal Justice System

2 Content Brief overview of Agencys role and functions The complex stakeholder environment The forensic flowline Case example of integrated examinations

3 FSNI A small but complex scientific organisation working in a large, complex and largely non-scientific stakeholder environment. Mission: To provide effective, impartial and efficient forensic science services to support justice Vision: To be recognised as a leading provider of comprehensive, integrated forensic science services, with a reputation for excellence, quality and timely delivery Corporate Goal : To demonstrate excellence and value for money to our customers and stakeholders through 5% efficiency improvements per year

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5 FSNI Overview Agency of the Northern Ireland Department of Justice Independent from Police and other CJS organisations –Especially important in NI context Total resource budget 2010/11 = £11.1m. 94% cost recovery from paying customers PSNI = 90% of work, funded by SLA (0.7% of PSNIs budget) Other customers: Historical Enquiries Team, State Pathologist, Police Ombudsman, other public and private Some Defence cases in other jurisdictions, e.g. ROI FSNIs work impacts society, victims, perpetrators, the peace process and public confidence

6 FSNI Overview International reputation >200 staff (~65% scientific grades) Broader range of disciplines than most other single labs –Road Traffic Collisions (RTC) –Special Fingerprint Unit (SFU) –Physical Methods: Glass, Fibres, Paint, Toolmarks, Foot/Tyre Marks –Questioned Documents & Thin Films –Firearms –Microchemistry –Fires & Explosives –Alcohol, Drugs & Toxicology –DNA –Biology –Electronics One of the broader scopes of ISO Accreditation

7 FSNIs Directorates Reporting Services Laboratory Services Finance & ICT Customers & Stakeholders Customers & Stakeholders Work flow Reporting Services Corporate Services Business Development Business Development Quality

8 Why is Forensic Provision Complex? Each year: 5,000 cases; 20,000 exhibits; 80,000 sub exhibits Technology, instruments, flow-lines, processes and sequencing –Case integration Joint Examinations Sequential Examinations Physical environment controls and decontamination procedures –Red and Blue zones: Source areas (bulk) and Sensitive areas (trace) Quality Accreditation & Integrity Customer/Stakeholder environment Quasi-market environment Legal overlay; Independence, Expert Witness, FOI, Disclosure Information Assurance / Security Specialist competences: load balancing and capacity planning

9 Stakeholder Environment PONI PPS SOCA HMRC NI Court Service NPIA Universities & Schools FSNI PSNI HET NIPS DoJ Minister UKAS Coroner Judiciary ENFSI AFSP FSSoc Private Customers Public & Media Strategic Partners SPD Policing Board NI Assembly; MLAs CJI HMIC FS Regulator CAS DoJ Directorate of Justice Policy Assembly Justice Cttee Suppliers Defence Lawyers & Experts

10 Strategic Context 80% of FSNI work is on Serious Crime Most forensic disciplines are also applicable to volume crime Priority One Cases (Murders, Rapes, Terrorism, etc.) turnaround within 72 hours Resources constrain both quantity and depth of forensic science FS organisations are both capital- and intellectual labour-intensive Malfunctioning market in E & W has reduced UK capacity and risks dumbing down the science FS organisations have intrinsic difficulty with lateral resource movement and lag times for expansion/contraction Scientific Ethos: Quality is paramount – ISO 17025;2005

11 Role of Forensic Science Facing two ways Support Police Investigation Fast (hours and days) Cooperative Creative Compromising Cost conscious Provide Expert Witness to the Courts Slow (months) Independent Rigorous Objective Cost blind Doing one must not compromise the other

12 Forensic Processes Evidence Recovery – Scene Handling, Forensic Strategy, Exhibit Selection, Packaging, Storage, Tracking – Swab, Tape Lift, Shake Out, Vacuum, Extract, Visualise Analysis – Detection, identification, quantification – Manual tests – Instrumental Analysis Investigative advice to Police – Input to Forensic Strategy – Suggestions for further submissions or tests – Identification of possible suspects –Evaluation – Findings, Context, Peer Review, Advice to PPS –Facilitation of Defence – External examination, disclosure Report and Expert Witness to Court – AFSP principles: Robust, Logical, Open, Objective – within Competences For FSNI operationally, the actual Lab work (by DOLS) is sandwiched between the Forensic Strategy and the Evaluation/Reporting (by DORS)

13 Crime Occurs Police Attend Crime Scene Crime Confirmed (S)IO Appointed Forensic Activities at Crime Scene and follow-up locations FSNI Expert Crime Scene Manager FSNI Customer Services Reception Tracking QC File creation FSNI Customer Services Reception Tracking QC File creation Traditional Police Activities Police Exhibits Police Reports The Forensic Science Flowline Police Submission Control Unit Scientific Support Manager Police Submission Control Unit Scientific Support Manager

14 Facilitation Crime Occurs Police Attend Crime Scene Crime Confirmed (S)IO Appointed Forensic Activities at Crime Scene and follow-up locations FSNI Expert Crime Scene Manager FSNI Customer Services Reception Tracking QC File creation FSNI Customer Services Reception Tracking QC File creation FSNI Secure Storage Ambient, Chilled, Frozen, Secure FSNI Secure Storage Ambient, Chilled, Frozen, Secure Evidence Recovery Unit Analytics DNA Lead Scientist & FSNI Reporting Officers Lead Scientist & FSNI Reporting Officers Traditional Police Activities Police Exhibits Instructions & Results Police Requirements Original Items returned FSNI Proposals Police Reports FSNI Reports Specialisms The Forensic Science Flowline Police Submission Control Unit Scientific Support Manager Police Submission Control Unit Scientific Support Manager (S)IO Sub-exhibits Files TRIAGETRIAGE

15 FSNI Scientific Advice Defence Facilitation Crime Occurs Police Attend Crime Scene Crime Confirmed (S)IO Appointed Forensic Activities at Crime Scene and follow-up locations FSNI Expert Crime Scene Manager FSNI Customer Services Reception Tracking QC File creation FSNI Customer Services Reception Tracking QC File creation FSNI Secure Storage Ambient, Chilled, Frozen, Secure FSNI Secure Storage Ambient, Chilled, Frozen, Secure Evidence Recovery Unit Analytics DNA Lead Scientist & FSNI Reporting Officers Lead Scientist & FSNI Reporting Officers Traditional Police Activities Police Public Prosecution Service Exhibits Instructions & Results Police Requirements Original Items returned FSNI Proposals Police Reports FSNI Reports Specialisms Courts FSNI Expert Witness The Forensic Science Flowline Police Submission Control Unit Scientific Support Manager Police Submission Control Unit Scientific Support Manager (S)IO Sub-exhibits Files Case prep TRIAGETRIAGE

16 Casework: Initial Stages Urgent examinations –May be required e.g. where person in custody or to progress the early stages of an investigation. –Results to be available within hours/days of request –E.g. Blood Pattern Analysis/Footwear Comparison/ DNA Analysis/Microchemistry –May be done at Scene or at Lab

17 Initial Incident Potential Assessment Case conference with the SIO, MCFA Lead Scientist with Specialists from appropriate disciplines. Agree potential evidence from each item Agree strategy for examination of each item Major cases may require multiple case conferences

18 Example Case: 4 Suspects arrested 29 March following reports of suspicious activity Hidden mortar found 5 April in area Items submitted to FSNI –The device:- launch tube, mortar explosives, wiring and electricals, taping –Mobile Phones –Car in which the suspects were stopped –Tools, pliers, wires trippers, circuit tester, tapes –Batteries –Suspects clothing & gloves –Items from house searches –Fibres from gatepost at scene of mortar find

19 Mortar Case: some of the linkages Mortar Tube + Mortar bomb Gloves from Suspect A Fibres Semtex Jacket/Glove from car Semtex Suspect B DNA Gatepost at scene of Mortar find Coat from Suspect A Fibres Car Paint Flakes Semtex

20 Mortar: Suspects Clothing Examination Examine for paint, DNA, fibre source, explosive residues Specially designed clean controlled area – One person takes all samples Samples forwarded to specialist sections for examination

21 Mortar: Device Examination Potential bulk explosives contaminant Designated Clean area for Fibres/paint/DNA recovery Joint DNA/Fingerprint recovery with specialist lighting and chemical treatments for fingerprint visualisation Followed by Specialised Fingerprint visualisation techniques Physical determination of device function & comparison with others

22 Mortar Case: Forensic challenges Explosives a major contaminant: –Bulk sources must be confined & kept remote from clean trace areas –Meticulous cleanliness and controls must be maintained during trace explosives recovery DNA must be recovered under clean conditions, in a way that preserves fingerprints and doesnt interfere with explosives or other trace material Fibres and paint can drop off and be easily lost if not recovered in initial examination.

23 Mortar Case: Forensic challenges SFU examination is a sequential process that aims to allow DNA recovery yet preserve any potential fingerprints. Tape ends and instrument marks must be preserved for any subsequent physical fits. Electronic data from phones must be recovered as soon as possible to be effective for the investigation, yet its recovery must not compromise DNA/fibre/ fingerprint recovery.

24 DNA Recovery and Databasing Trace analysis at FSNI Comparison to suspects or search of N Ireland or National DNA database Discuss strategy for dealing with unidentified profiles, e.g. familial searching?

25 Mortar Case: Result Guilty pleas by all 4 suspects Forensics pivotal to case outcome Quality, including: validation, calibration, competence, chain of integrity and contamination control would all have had to withstand Defence challenge

26 Summary Forensic delivery is much more than the sum of the individual parts (the actual tests) Planning, sequencing, integrating and interpretation are vital Logistics are as critical as the science itself Quality system plays central role Integration is itself a core skill which must be maintained like any other competence What is the forensic cost V benefit to society and the CJS of the conviction of 4 active terrorists?


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