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Forensic Science: Miscarriages of Justice

Volume 728: debated on Tuesday 21 February 2023

14. If he will have discussions with his Cabinet colleagues on the potential impact of the quality of forensic science provision on the likelihood of miscarriages of justice. (903713)

The hon. Gentleman raises an important point. The Department has been working closely with the Home Office and other criminal justice partners to deliver on our commitment to drive up quality standards in forensic science. Yesterday, the House debated the new statutory code of practice required by the Forensic Science Regulator Act 2021, which will grant the independent regulator statutory powers to investigate providers who fail to meet the required quality standards and who may put the interests of justice at risk.

Is the Minister aware that the Chair of the Justice Committee and I are co-chairs of the all-party parliamentary group on miscarriages of justice? The group is very concerned at what leading forensic scientists are telling us about the running down of the forensic science service in this country—a service that must be at the heart of any good justice system. Some £55 million was put into the pot to improve forensic science over the past three years, but nobody knows where it has gone, where it was spent or when it will take effect to stop the loss of great experts that we are experiencing.

Again, the hon. Gentleman makes an important point. This is a complex issue and I am more than happy to sit down with him and my hon. Friend the Chair of the Select Committee to discuss it in further detail, to get their expertise and to see how we can move things forward.