SPA response to HMICS Inspection of Forensic Services


HMICS Inspection of the Scottish Police Authority Forensic Services

HMICS has today, Tuesday 27 June published a Thematic Inspection of the Scottish Police Authority Forensic Services.

Responding to the HMICS report, SPA Board member Nicola Marchant said:

“This HMICS report highlights that Scotland benefits from a Forensic Service which has increased its output, is delivering to a high-quality and has benefited from significant investment in technology and modern facilities. Forensic science in Scotland is at the forefront of UK and International standards employing the latest scientific technologies and this is something we would not want anyone to lose sight of.

"Four years ago, the SPA inherited a national Forensic Service that was juggling the demands placed on it by the Crown Office and nine separate police forces. Establishing a single service and a single police customer represented an opportunity to understand and better manage demand and capacity.

"Following reform, the priority was on managing the largest merger since devolution and maintaining services. Over the last 12-months, the Board of the SPA has progressed the development of Policing 2026, an overarching strategy and direction for policing which has been approved by the SPA Board and endorsed by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice. We are now developing a strategy for Forensic Services which recognises and is underpinned by innovative and leading science. The forensics strategy will effectively support the direction outlined for policing over the next 10-years.
"The structure of Forensic Services has been the subject of ongoing consideration and the direction set out by HMICS is a welcome input to the Board's consideration going forward. However, clearly there are implications and a number of steps required to achieve the recommended approach and this will take time to progress.

“The Board has also acknowledged previously that oversight of Forensic Services can be improved and we have taken steps to strengthen governance and assurance of the function by establishing a dedicated Forensic Committee."

Tom Nelson, the SPA’s Director of Forensic Services added:

"Forensic Services has undergone significant improvements in the last four years with investment in world leading facilities and our scientific capabilities which has seen the service become the first UK provider to gain UKAS accreditation in fingerprint comparison, introduce new accredited DNA24 chemistries and a national image management system. Scientific advances, coupled with significant investment in new and emerging technologies means Forensic Services is providing better results for policing in Scotland and the wider justice system.

“With this has come ever increasing service demands and complexity which we are working with partners to effectively manage. I welcome HMICS recognition of the high quality of work undertaken by our committed and professional Forensic Services workforce, particularly the contribution they make in the most serious and complex of crimes.  We value greatly the contribution of Forensic Services staff and recognise their commitment to the profession. The report also raises important issues around communication and engagement with our staff which we acknowledged and will work to address these in the coming months.”