Written evidence submitted by the Science and Justice Research Interest Group, University of Northumbria to the Science and Technology Committee (Commons) inquiry on the work of the Biometrics Commissioner and Forensic Science Regulator (WBC0004)

Carole McCartney, Martin Evison, Emmanuel Nsiah Amoako, Aaron Amankwaa

Research output: Other contribution

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Abstract

Both the forensic science and biometrics ‘strategy’ documents lacked detail, underlying principles, and indeed, any discernible ‘strategy’. Adequate governance and oversight of both forensic science and biometrics is urgent. The importance of creating a transparent and accountable regime for the use of biometrics, and forensic science, that is simultaneously legally justifiable, socially acceptable and ethically sound, has been the core message of multiple reports and publications for many years. There remain serious questions over the effectiveness of the England and Wales model of forensic regulation. Although there has been significant progress with initial aims and objectives and broad stakeholder engagement, both the Forensic Science Regulator (FSR) and Biometrics Commissioner lack meaningful powers, and significant gaps in regulation and oversight remain. Accreditation across the forensic science sector is not only inconsistent but is superficial. Both also face serious resource restrictions with debilitating limitations on their capacities, while wider austerity measures throughout the criminal justice system hamper efforts to raise standards in forensic science. Both areas suffer from the lack of responsiveness of the law, with legal governance and guidance lagging behind the development of technology. Legal principles, such as proportionality, need to be properly accounted for in the necessary public and parliamentary debates around the acceptable use of biometrics and forensic technologies.
Original languageEnglish
TypeParliamentary inquiry response
Media of outputText
PublisherHouse of Commons Science and Technology Committee
Number of pages7
Place of PublicationLondon
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2019

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