Crime Forensic Tests Looked At Again

21 November 2017, 14:03 | Updated: 21 November 2017, 15:03

Stock image of a forensic laboratory

Forensic test results across the east of England are being looked at again after concerns over possible data manipulation.

An investigation over alleged manipulation has identified more than 10,000 cases which "may have been affected", the National Police Chiefs' Council has said.

The NPCC said three-quarters of the cases, across 42 police forces, were traffic offences such as drug driving, with the rest including violent crime, sexual offences and unexplained deaths.

Retests have so far found no impact on cases of sexual offence cases, violence or homicide, the NPCC said.

But a number of retests had resulted in drug driving cases being discontinued and two road deaths had been referred to the Court of Appeal.

Two men have been arrested and five interviewed under caution by Greater Manchester Police over the alleged manipulation by individuals working at a Randox Testing Services site in Manchester

The alleged manipulation emerged earlier this year when a data anomaly in a drug driving case was reported to Randox.

The NPCC said retesting was either complete or under way for around 70 per cent of the highest priority cases, with the rest expected to be completed by mid-2018.

Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire

Police locally say instigated a review earlier this year after allegations came over the tests carried out by Randox.

Superintendent Russ Waterston, Deputy Head of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire's Criminal Justice and Custody Unit, said:

"We have reviewed samples dating from late 2013 to early 2017 and, to date, we have identified 129 criminal cases, which equates to 211 forensic samples across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire, that may have been affected by this issue.

These cases cover a wide variety of offences. The majority relate to road traffic offences but there are also cases relating to violent crime, sexual offences and sudden deaths.  In line with the national response, the most urgent cases, including those that are currently going through the Criminal Justice system, are being given retesting priority.

To date 22 samples have been re-tested and the results have remained unchanged. As we progress with this review we will of course ensure that contact is made via the Crown Prosecution Service with anyone who has been affected by inaccurate samples.

Understandably, this news will cause concern but I would like to reassure the public that it is very unusual that one single strand of evidence, such as toxicology results, would form the entire basis of a case. There is normally other significant evidence that supports the decision making of the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Courts. 

We are continuing to work closely with the NPCC, the Home Office and the Crown Prosecution Service and our priority is to ensure the integrity of the criminal justice system." 

Thames Valley and Northamptonshire

Thames Valley Police they're looking into a number of cases - but - they can't confirm any numbers - and toxicology tests are being carried out by another accredited provider.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire Police said:

"All cases highlighted to us so far have been reviewed and the appropriate action is being undertaken.

We are endeavouring to keep those affected up-to-date with any developments and provide reassurance we are treating this issue as a priority, as well as effectively managing our daily business."