The Forensic Science Regulator Act puts a duty on the Regulator to prepare and publish a code of practice about the carrying on of forensic science activities in England and Wales. This statutory code of practice will be made up of three elements:
- the core code that will be based on the current codes of practice and conduct
- the definitions of forensic science activities
- the appendices to the current codes of practice and conduct
On the 14th of January 2022 the Regulator published a draft of the core code as version 1.0 for comment. The Regulator would like to extend his thanks to all of those across the forensic community who responded with general comments and comments on specific sections of the core code.
The Regulator is now publishing a further draft of the code as version 2.0, which is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/forensic-science-regulator-draft-statutory-code-v2-for-comment
This contains an updated core code taking into account the comments made, and definitions of forensic science activities as required by Section 2 of the Act. There is considerable flexibility in the Act regarding how the code covers forensic science activities, the Act states the code;
- must specify the forensic science activities to which it applies;
- need not make provision about every forensic science activity;
- may make different provision for different purposes or descriptions of person.
The forensic science activities published in Version 2.0 of the code are the forensic science activities that will be covered by the first issue of the statutory code of practice. There are many forensic science activities with established quality standards and well-defined accreditation requirements, equally there are others for which the Regulator has not yet established quality standards or accreditation requirements, or timescales to achieve accreditation. It is important to produce a comprehensive list of forensic science activities for the first issue of the statutory code of practice to which the Act and core code provisions will apply.
Through an online survey, the Forensic Science Regulator is seeking informal comment on a draft of Version 2 of the Code. The Regulator will use any feedback to refine the draft Code but will not respond to individual comments at this time. The whole draft Code will be subject to formal consultation later in the year, in line with the requirements of sections 3(1) and 3(2) of the Forensic Science Regulator Act 2021. This survey can be found at the following link: https://www.homeofficesurveys.homeoffice.gov.uk/s/U457QG/
The main changes between the previous draft of the core Code made available for comment in January 2022 and the Version 2 draft of the Code are:
- The Forensic Science Activity drafts have been added.
- There is now one section on territorial extent rather than two, to make it clearer that there are two separate legal issues related to territorial restrictions.
- The section on tenders has been revised
- The requirements regarding the Senior Accountable Individual have been clarified.
- The requirements for testing of business continuity provisions have been revised.
- The requirements regarding evaluative opinions have been amended.
- The effect of the code on forensic unit personnel who are not directly involved in the provision of FSA is expanded.
- The section on control of data has been reviewed.
- Additional guidance has been included regarding human tissue.
- The section on declaration of compliance has been updated and includes a requirement for declaration on the SFR1.
- A section on secondary case review has been added.
- Drafting changes have been made, including changing the order of some sections to make the document more readable.
The deadline for providing comments is 23:59 on the 8th of May 2022.
If you are unable to respond through the online survey, please email FSREnquiries@homeoffice.gov.uk using the subject line “Version 2 Code Feedback”, where you will be advised on how to provide comments. The Regulator will not respond to comments or enter into correspondence regarding the Code other than by exception.