FORENSIC SCIENCE FOR DEFENCE
Forensic Access is the UK’s leading provider of forensic science services to criminal defence solicitors, barristers and other organisations across the Criminal Justice System.
Formed in 1986 to serve criminal defence solicitors and barristers, privately owned and totally independent, Forensic Access has built an enviable reputation for its commitment and lengthy track record in providing impartial, objective and quality forensic science expertise delivered by highly skilled and experienced forensic scientists.
Our unrivalled and specialist forensic science services, together with a focus on quality (we were the first of the defence-based forensic science providers to achieve ISO 17025 accreditation) and a true focus on our criminal defence customers’ needs have made us highly regarded by organisations across the Criminal Justice System.
From our custom-designed, secure forensic science laboratories in Oxfordshire, our forensic scientists provide their expertise to criminal defence barristers and solicitors across the United Kingdom; we cover an extremely wide range of forensic science services across most crime and evidence types: from crime scene to court room.
The Forensic Access scientists offer a complete range of expert forensic services for criminal defence, including:
Attendance at scenes of crime
Undertaking a paper review of the prosecution forensic scientists’ files
Re-examining and re-testing items and examining and testing items not previously examined by the police or prosecution forensic scientists
Preparing reports and “Section 9 Statements”
Attending case conferences (with the police), “experts” conferences and conferences and meetings with Counsel and client representatives
Presenting evidence in Court as expert witnesses
Attendance of scenes of crime
Crime scenes can offer very valuable evidence for the defence as well as the prosecution, and getting to a scene as soon after an alleged incident has taken place, is very important. Therefore, under the Forensic Access’ Crime Scene Service:
We are prepared to take the financial risk of visiting a scene, on the assumption that funding will follow, in order to give you and your client the best chance of finding any appropriate evidence
We do not charge a call out fee
This service is particularly valuable in major crime cases such as murder, rape, arson, shootings and some drugs cases like cannabis cultivation
In some cases, all that is needed is for us to review the Section 9 Statement produced by the prosecution scientist and offer, where appropriate, realistic alternatives. This service is most suited to very urgent work where a full laboratory examination is not possible. (We would always advise a full laboratory re-examination for major crime and where time and budget permit.)
We have a lot of experience of participating in case conferences, at all times of an investigation, for example, immediately after a scene visit, partway through a laboratory examination and pre-trial. Our scientists are very experienced at discussing their findings and their report with Counsel.
All of our scientists and consultants have previously worked in a prosecution environment and, therefore, understand the procedures and practices of “prosecution” forensic laboratories.
In 2008 we designed and built our own DNA-secure laboratories (since accredited by UKAS to ISO 17025 for certain operations and tests). Should the Criminal Defence Service and the Crown Prosecution Service agree, the re-examination of exhibits within our forensic laboratory will allow us to ensure a robust and safe critique.
Our Forensic Scientists can:
Re-examine exhibits previously examined by the prosecution – this is becoming increasingly important as time and cost pressures increase on prosecution forensic services – read more about the importance of re-examination and re-testing.
Re-test exhibits and evidence taken from exhibits
Check that the prosecution forensic scientist’s procedure used to examine the exhibit or to perform a test, were in compliance with the laboratory’s stated, quality management procedures
Check that the procedures in place at the time of the prosecution examination match the evidence being found now (for example, problems of using DNA evidence on items originally examined before forensic DNA profiling was discovered)
Discuss the interpretation of scientific results with the prosecution scientist, exploring weaknesses and strengths of the interpretation
Check and assess the credibility of the prosecution expert witness
Assess the validity of the methods and tests used by the prosecution
Look for and explore realistic and viable alternatives to the interpretation of evidence and the translation of that into how/when the event occurred
Produce a detailed report of the findings including photographs and diagrams where appropriate
Summary of our Forensic Services for the Defence
Forensic Access has built its reputation on the quality of its extensive range of services. Our scientists and consultants are so experienced at working on the most serious crimes that we have become the “first choice” forensic supplier in appeal cases, re-investigations and historic cases, particularly where there is a political sensitivity over a case. In addition we understand the legal system in Scotland and have worked with the funding systems for cases in the Republic of Ireland.