The UKAS accreditation for ‘ISO-17025 standard for testing and calibration laboratories’ has long applied to those entities performing so-called ‘Wet-Forensics’ typically, DNA, fibres, ballistics etc. The Forensic Science Regulator (FSR) was appointed to set out the ISO-17025 standard for Digital Forensics with the requirement that all forensic units should become accredited by October 2017.
There has been some debate within the Digital Forensics and Criminal Justice communities concerning the challenges of compliance within the timescales set by the FSR. The speed with which accreditation has been accomplished has been slow. The costs of the resources required for success are often cited as a contributing factor.
SYTECH was first accredited by UKAS in July 2016 and have worked continually to extend and make improvements to our quality systems. Suspension of our accreditation followed a further thorough audit. This was welcomed. It brought to our attention detailed aspects of the standard not fully implemented in the SYTECH Quality Systems. This situation has been corrected and continues to be given our full attention.
SYTECH worked with Police clients during the temporary suspension period and kept them advised of corrective actions being taken that subsequently resulted in the re-instatement by UKAS of our accreditation.
The Guardian articles draw attention to the need for all engaged in providing evidence within the criminal justice system to meet the quality standards set by the FSR. This is not an issue directly associated with the much-publicised issues concerning a number of high-profile cases that have collapsed before going to trial. In these cases, there was no failure of the forensic processes covered by accreditation. The evidence was obtained during the forensic processes but then not fully disclosed to the Defence by the Police / CPS.
SYTECH have a long history of independent and objective contributions to the criminal justice process and are fully committed to attaining the highest level of quality assurance for all services.