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13 August 13

KFS Policy on Defence Examinations Explained

KFS Defence Examination Policy Explained

Recently, there seems to have been considerable confusion surrounding “free access” to exhibits by defence experts and a bizarre expectation that those same defence experts can use a competitor private forensic provider’s laboratories, equipment and scientists for free. To provide clarity on Key Forensic’s own charging policy and to shed light on current industry practice vs the old regime, when all prosecution forensic services were provided via a monopoly state provider, we provide the following clarifications:

1. Since the introduction of the National Forensic Framework Agreement in 2008, the forensic marketplace has been operating on a competitive supply basis, whereby private companies provide forensic services in a highly competitive market for fees.

2. Only vetted forensic service providers assessed as delivering their services to a minimum high standard and to international quality standards are approved to provide services to prosecuting agencies via the National Forensic Framework Agreement. All approved forensic suppliers to the framework agreement providing contracted services to prosecuting agencies are required to provide “Free Access” of exhibits to the defence.

3. KFS does not and never has, applied charges for access to exhibits by the defence. On the contrary, exhibits will be made available for collection or will be returned to the prosecuting police force free of charge on suitable instruction by the CPS and / or the defence experts.

4. There is a misconception that under the terms of the National Forensic Framework Agreement contracted providers are somehow able to recover the costs relating to defence examinations in their fees to the prosecuting agency. The opposite is true, in that contracted providers to the prosecuting agencies are specifically prohibited from recovering expenses related to defence examinations. There is, nevertheless, an expectation that private companies providing forensic services will charge for their services, otherwise there is no economic basis on which the new competitive private suppliers can operate.

5. The expectation that providers to the police would seek to charge for use of their facilities, time of their staff and copying charges etc. is clearly allowed for in the Forensic Regulators Codes of Practise for forensic providers and practitioners issued in December 2011. These same Codes of practise require that all defence examiners are escorted while on a prosecution provider’s premises.

6. Similarly, the terms of our insurance provision, regard for ensuring health and safety legislation and observance with the high security nature of our facilities also require KFS staff to escort and supervise any forensic practitioner not employed by KFS while on our premises.

7. KFS is confident that our charging structure and the justification for those charges is well understood. However, some unapproved forensic expert organisations acting for defence have confused “free access” of exhibit obligations with an inherent right to use the laboratories, equipment and scientists of their better invested approved status competitors for free.

8. As KFS has invested tens of millions of pounds in establishing our own state of the art laboratory facilities equipped with the very latest scientific equipment and populated with renown scientists providing services to internationally accepted standards we can understand why other forensic providers would wish to conduct their own examinations at our facilities. KFS is an independent forensic provider offering forensic services to both prosecution and defence and we welcome the opportunity to provide defence examinations directly, which we would normally perform at our own laboratories across all forensic disciplines.

9. As a commercial organisation KFS is pleased to make our facilities available to lesser invested forensic organisations without their own or appropriately accredited facilities for an appropriate fee. However, it should be recognised that allowing defence examinations by non-KFS scientists at our facilities is highly disruptive to our contracted services and as such we advise that adequate time is allowed before placing your purchase order with KFS, to avoid disappointment.

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