» UKAS Forensics Update

01 December, 2020

While development of new accredited activities in the area of forensic science has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are pleased to report that progress has been made in a number of areas.

Fire Investigation

The Forensic Science Regulator (FSR) published an invitation to tender in September to assist in the publication of an appendix to cover Fire Investigation activities.  The successful applicant will hopefully start to draft an Appendix for Fire Regulation shortly.

The requirement for this document was established following UKAS’ Dry Run Exercise of a Fire Investigation Unit in October 2019 and its accompanying report.

Once this document is available, UKAS will be able to restart this development project armed with the appropriate guidance to move forward.

Cell Site Analysis

New accreditation activity using ISO/IEC 17025 to cover the capture of Radio Frequency surveying information and use of cell phone data to determine the location of a mobile device is currently under development. A previous pilot programme stalled due to an identified issue relating to the lack of ground truth data (access to controlled Call Data Records – CDRs) used during validation. However, now that a mechanism has been established to gain access to CDRs from network providers, the Forensic Science Regulator has generated some exercises for Cell Site providers to participate in, the results of which are anticipated in January 2021.  If the results are positive, UKAS will be able to restart the pilot programmes in Cell Site Analysis towards the middle of 2021.

Collision Investigation

UKAS is working with the Forensic Collision Investigation Network to roll out accreditation of police collision investigation over the next two years. The pilot programme for this type of accreditation was launched in November 2019 in order to carry out assessments against the requirements of ISO/IEC 17020 – “Conformity assessment – Requirements for the operation of various types of bodies performing inspections.” The first assessment activities for this pilot are now underway and we hope to be able to offer grants of accreditation in the first part of next year.

Chartered Society of Forensic Science

UKAS is working in partnership with the Chartered Society of Forensic Science on a pilot programme aiming to enable small forensics providers to gain accreditation for a number of digital forensics activities.

This pilot will include the implementation of a Generic Quality Management System which will be common to all applicants and will potentially reduce the assessment effort for the participating small businesses.  This pilot supports the recommendation made in a House of Lords review, requiring UKAS, the Forensic Science Regulator and the Chartered Society of Forensic Science to explore options that would open up accreditation to smaller bodies.