The Truth is out there, but the small number of Post Mortems means it is often missed.

Giving the coroners office a “budget” seems common sense, but only if health care is rationed overtly. When the former “N” Health Service began we had many more post mortems than we do now. In November 2015 NHSreality commented The truth is disappearing, along with Post Mortems and those who did them.. and the situation has got worse. Only last year I was personally involved in a case where justice was administered some 7 years after death. The ultimate truth of a Post Mortem is revered throughout the profession, but government rationing is ensuring a lack of trust. Frances Gibb reports Feb 7th in the Times: ‘Fund forensics or more crimes will go unsolved’

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Sir Brian Leveson says that cases are suffering as the science service endures financial strain, stretched resources, and the CSI effect

The quality of justice in the criminal courts is at risk because of the problems with the forensic science service, the country’s most senior criminal judge has warned. Fewer crimes will be solved, and when they come to court, there will be fewer convictions. “I think we are in very serious trouble,” Sir Brian Leveson recently told peers. Outlining his views, the president of the Queen’s Bench Division said that financial cuts had put the quality of evidence at risk and threatened to deplete the number of scientists able to conduct tests to the necessary standard. “Forensic-science providers continue to be under significant financial strain. This represents a serious risk to quality, particularly in relation to the potential for the loss of skilled scientists, some of whom have been made redundant more than once — and yet it takes years to train a forensic scientist.”

Sir Brian, giving evidence to the Lords committee on science and technology, went on to warn that the effect of the US television series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation had also caused problems, in that witnesses tended to think that everything could be resolved through forensics. “Why should they put themselves through the criminal justice system as witnesses . . . when the case could be solved forensically? If we cannot solve it in any way, less crime will be solved and the system will start to crumble.” Sir Brian and other judges are among a long line of witnesses at the Lords’ inquiry looking at the state of forensic science in England and Wales. Peers are investigating the present market; use of forensic science in the criminal justice system; standards and regulation; and digital forensics. Most witnesses have confirmed the same problems. Dr Gillian Tully, the forensic-science regulator, told peers in evidence that there was a “lack of strategic leadership and clearly understood policy and strategy for forensic science in England and Wales”. Peers have also heard significant concerns about the sustainability of the forensic-science market and its impact on the justice system. The concerns have grown since the government closed the state-owned Forensic Science Service in 2012 and the work moved to private companies or in-house police laboratories. Already convictions are not being achieved. Judge Wall, QC, told the inquiry: “There are cases that I have tried in which the verdicts have been, I think, surprising, and it has I think been because the jury wanted scientific evidence, but was not given it.” Juries, he added, had then sought a way out by saying: “ ‘That [scientific evidence] would have made me sure; it is not there so I am not sure,’ even though one might have thought the other evidence was sufficiently strong.” In certain cases the forensic effort had been “nothing short of outstanding”, Sir Brian said. However, he highlighted the limited resources. “How many cases were not solved because of the investigation at Salisbury and the amount of scientific expertise that was put into that investigation?” Judge Wall added that large numbers of burglaries were once solved by fingerprint evidence. “Now very rarely is fingerprint evidence collected and comparisons made.” As funding falls, more serious crimes “are starting to be affected”. Acquittals are also at risk if forensic science falls by the wayside, said Lord Hughes of Ombersley, the former UK Supreme Court justice. “Sometimes an advance in science will demonstrate that a conviction many years ago . . . was positively wrong.” Nick Hurd, the Home Office minister, accepts that there is “instability in the market” and other problems. He commissioned a review last year that is likely to report by the end of March, but he does not believe that the mixed-market model is the problem. “Stabilising the market is my priority; changing the model is not.” That stability is likely to come from greater top-down control over standards, inquiry witnesses say. Hurd is backing a private member’s bill to put the powers of the regulator on a statutory footing, ensuring accreditation and enforcing standards. But key is the question of resources — not least for new forensic techniques to keep up with obtaining digital evidence. Peers are likely to push for more funding, heeding Sir Brian’s warning that too much money has been driven out of the forensic-science provision — and miscarriages of justice will result. Coroners Statistics report UK Daughter and Grandson jailed for life: Feb 8th 2018 BBC News

Justice at risk by cuts to forensics 

System is failing victims of rape, charity claims

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This entry was posted in A Personal View, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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