The National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) have revealed that up to 10,000 cases have been affected by questionable results pertaining to drug testing linked to road traffic offenses, assault and other violent offences including sexual offences and unexplained deaths. Of these cases, three quarters concern road traffic offences, with fifty cases already dropped as a result.
The NPCC is working alongside regulator the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to investigate the supposed data manipulation which has taken place at Randox Testing Services (RTS) and has instigated re-testing on the highest priority cases as a first step to resolving the issue. In total, the re-testing programme could take between 3 – 4 years to complete.
Deputy Chief Constable of the NPCC, James Vaughan, points out that those cases which have been dropped were forced to do so because of the issues with conducting a re-test when samples were either unavailable or lacking in quality or quantity to produce a viable result. There are a number of re-test still to go ahead for high priority cases, with the process predicted to be completed by the middle of next year.
Whilst the number of road traffic cases which have been discontinued as a result of the manipulation remains low, none linked to violent or sexual offences have caused cases to be dropped so far.
In light of the re-testing programme, two cases involving road traffic fatalities are being referred to the Court of Appeal.
The programme devised concerns testing which has taken place at RTS, however a police investigation by Greater Manchester Police may reveal that a similar practice took place at Trimega Laboratories Ltd which could link to family court cases, including child protection proceedings.
DCC Vaughan states:
“The integrity of forensic science in the criminal justice system is hugely important…We have worked at pace to respond to this serious breach of standards and take action in cases where people’s lives could have been affected.”
Duncan Lewis’ Motor Law specialist, Neil Sargeant, states:
“I have represented a significant number of clients who feel strongly that the blood-analysis result must be incorrect with drug and alcohol related cases.
“There’s an ill-conceived preconception that those charged with motoring offences relating to drink or drugs must be guilty and there is still a significant stigma attached to those who are convicted. It must be hugely stressful for someone to find themselves charged with an offence like this when they know they simply cannot be guilty. To then have to wonder whether those you approach for help believe you is an additional concern.
“Initial concerns about the analysis of blood have been raised during many cases before any formal allegations of tampering were reported. Defence practitioners experienced a disproportionate degree of resistance when requesting material that related to sample-analysis from the relevant laboratory.
“Fighting for disclosure (which we were legally entitled to) increases the costs of a case and delays progress so it makes one wonder why there was such an unwillingness to release the material. Laboratories that deal with this type of work are in a huge position of trust and for results-tampering to be exposed at this level and to the extent that cases are being dropped entirely begs the question of how many motorists could have been wrongly convicted since the Forensic Science Service closed, which is generally when some of these labs in question took over blood analysis for the prosecution.
“Scandals like this do nothing but call the whole system into disrepute and will make many people more sceptical of how effective the criminal justice system is. Investigating this will no doubt incur significant cost to the public purse.”
Duncan Lewis Motor Law Solicitors
Recognised by the independent directory Chambers & Partners as a top tier criminal defence practice, Duncan Lewis’ Crime department has a wide selection of services with a highly skilled team of solicitors. Our services include Motoring Law, with particular expertise in drug and alcohol-related motoring offences. We can provide free and comprehensive legal advice on any motoring prosecution, regardless of the allegations.
It is crucial that you seek legal advice immediately, as an early opinion in your case can make a significant difference to the end result. Duncan Lewis Solicitors can be on hand to deal with whatever motoring law issue you may have.
For specialist advice please call our Road Traffic specialist Neil Sargeant on 02031141145 or email him on firstname.lastname@example.org.