HMICS publishes thematic inspection of Scottish Police Authority Forensic Services

27 June 2017

A report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) into how forensic services are managed and delivered by the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) has acknowledged that Scotland is recognised as a leader in using the latest forensic technologies to tackle crime and the quality of its services are assured through robust  accreditation.

The quality of forensic analysis continues to be good despite Forensic Services experiencing a period of significant change and financial constraint.

The report found the continued delivery of quality forensic services will require ongoing investment, changes in governance  and  strengthened strategic leadership by the SPA.

HMICS has identified a lack of progress across a number of areas for improvement, which were previously highlighted to both the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) and Police Scotland.

The report states that there has been no strategy in place for the delivery of forensic services in Scotland for over four years and the impact of demand for forensic services, geographical spread of staff and the current functional structures continue to present challenges.

All stakeholders are supportive of the service provided, but have a limited understanding of the actual performance currently being delivered.

Gill Imery, Assistant Inspector of Constabulary at HMICS, who led the review, said:

“Forensic Services play a key role in supporting the justice system in Scotland in the investigation, detection and prosecution of crime. The service has been subject to continual change over the past ten years and has done well to innovate and meet increasing demands from  those who use its services. 

“We found Forensic Services staff at all levels are dedicated and committed to delivering a high quality service.”

“However, it was concerning that our inspection found there has been a lack of progress across improvement areas which were previously highlighted to both the SPA and Police Scotland.

“Serious and major crime investigations receive an excellent level of forensic service, although those delivered to local policing at an investigative stage are often poorer. It is clear that demand for forensic services is ever-increasing and additional investment and better demand management will be needed to build a sustainable forensic service for the future.”

“We should be proud of the Forensic Service which has developed in Scotland. It has many attributes which should be valued: its independence, its advanced science, its quality approach, and its staff”

The report highlights a number of areas of strength regarding the service currently provided and makes 23 recommendations for improvement.

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