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New Streamlined Forensic Reporting Guidance Launched

On behalf of Policing and the Criminal Justice System (CJS), management and oversight of Streamlined Forensic Reporting (SFR) was adopted by the Forensic Capability Network (FCN) upon its creation in April 2020.

You can find all the SFR documents here - Streamlined Forensic Reporting (SFR) | Forensic Capability Network (fcn.police.uk)

In January 2021, new versions of the SFR template forms and SFR2 annexes were approved and published on the FCN website. Whilst we have not undertaken a full review of the SFR Templates and Annexes, we would like to draw your attention to  the SFR2 Annex A, which has now been reissued, for the avoidance of doubt and to ensure absolute clarity of reporting, there is an additional declaration to certify compliance with the requirements of CrimPR 19.4(e)iii in relation to the Forensic Examination Record.

In addition, version 2.0 of the comprehensive guidance document has now been released, with key updates and approval to report new forensic disciplines via the SFR process, namely questioned documents, fire investigation and medical evidence. 

These new, nationally approved guidelines provide practitioners in the criminal justice system with the very latest best practice advice.  FCN aim to capture all relevant regulatory changes and equip practitioners with the tools required to report forensic findings in a consistent and compliant manner.

The Forensic Science Regulator’s requirements for declaring status of UKAS Accreditation continue to evolve. The Jan 2021 SFR templates are compliant to version 5 of the Codes and this latest release of the SFR guidance document includes the content of the ‘References to Accreditation Briefing Note’ issued by FCN in January 2021 (v2). On behalf of the community, FCN remain in dialogue with the Regulator and UKAS to assist providers in establishing a mechanism for reporting all forensic findings in a manner that is compliant to version 7 of the Regulator’s codes.  Updates will be provided once agreement has been reached. 

On behalf of the community, FCN continues to consult with CPS on a number of matters, including updates to SFR content on the cps.gov.uk website, clarity over the approval for reporting of digital forensics and recent updates to disclosure.

Organisations are requested to:

  • Use the new issue of the SFR2 Annex A (June 2021) with immediate effect.  Advice has been sought from CPS Legal and Policy Directorate - there is no requirement to re-issue any SFR2 statements that have previously been provided to customers using previous versions of the Annex.  The previous version is still compliant with the CrimPR due to the declaration at point 11 relating to Rule 19 in its entirety.
  • Ensure compliance with the requirements for declaring status of UKAS Accreditation;
  • Check the list of approved forensic disciplines and ensure that they are complaint.  Any extensions to this scope need to be approved by the National SFR Board;
  • Familiarise themselves with the newly approved SFR process for fire investigation and undertake any local engagement necessary to ensure successful implementation
  • View the discipline specific content in the latest guidance and feedback any suggested additions / changes or queries to the SFR Discipline Lead.

The National SFR Board continues to hold virtual meetings on a quarterly basis.  This includes representation from all policing regions, the main private forensic providers, CPS, HMCTS, the Judiciary, the Home Office and the Law Society.  The Board continues to consider benefits capture and evolution of the SFR process into new disciplines, in addition to reporting and mitigating risks and issues.

If you are actively involved in the SFR process and do not feel you have a voice on the Board, please get in touch via the ‘contact us’ function on the FCN website; we can put you in touch with the appropriate representative.