07:57, November 21 350 0 theguardian.com

2017-11-21 07:57:03
Forensics 'data manipulation' may have affected 10,000 cases

An investigation into alleged data manipulation at a forensics laboratory has identified more than 10,000 cases which may have been affected, the National Police Chiefs’ Council has said.

Forensic experts started reviewing cases after concerns came to light during a criminal investigation into allegedly manipulated samples at a Manchester lab operated by a forensic provider called Randox.

Potential data manipulation at a separate facility, Trimega Laboratories, is also being investigated by Greater Manchester police, the NPCC said. This may affect child protection and family court cases.

It is understood the two suspects arrested in connection with the alleged malpractice also worked for Trimega.

Police said two people had been arrested and five more were interviewed under caution. All worked at Randox, some had previously worked at Trimega, said the NPCC’s James Vaughan, who is overseeing the police response.

The NPCC said three-quarters of the cases, across 42 police forces, were traffic offences such as drug-driving, with the rest including violent crime, sexual offences and unexplained deaths.

Retests have so far found no impact on cases involving sexual offences , violence or homicide, the NPCC said. Police said two cases involving road deaths had been referred to the court of appeal. Around 50 cases of drug-driving have already been discontinued.

Two men have been arrested and five interviewed under caution by Greater Manchester police over the alleged manipulation by individuals working at a Randox Testing Services site in Manchester.

The alleged manipulation emerged earlier this year when a data anomaly in a drug-driving case was reported to Randox.

The NPCC said retesting was either complete or under way for around 70% of the highest priority cases, with the rest expected to be completed by mid-2018.

Gillian Tully, of the Forensic Services Regulator, said all major forensic toxicology suppliers had been asked to carry out a detailed audit of a sample of their cases to ensure the issue was not more widespread. The audits uncovered no such data manipulation.

She said: “If there was large-scale manipulation going on across the board I do expect it would have been found during that audit.”

Policing minister Nick Hurd said: “The government recognises the seriousness of this issue and the potential impact on public confidence in the use of forensic science within the justice system. The senior judiciary are aware and government officials are working with the police to monitor the scale of the issue, as information emerges.”