You may or not be aware of the accreditation challenges faced by all UK based forensic laboratories over recent years. And as a busy professional working in the fast paced legal environment, you may be forgiven in thinking that ISO 17025 accreditation has no impact on your operations. However, the need for laboratory accreditation affects practicing solicitors, barristers and legal professionals – defence,
civil, corporate and/or otherwise, who have a requirement for the acquisition and analysis of not only digital evidence, but also traditional forensic evidence, within their cases.
What is ISO 17025:2005 Accreditation?
ISO 17025 accreditation is the single most important international standard for laboratories undertaking testing and/or calibration activities and applies to all forensic laboratories. ISO 17025 accreditation provides formal recognition of the development of a management system; utilised to control operations in a customer focused manner, it ensures the technical competence of all staff involved in the testing and/or calibration activities, and demonstrates the laboratory’s capability to generate technically valid results.
The accreditation is applicable to a wide range of laboratories including, but not limited to:
– Digital – Computers/Mobile Phones & other digital media
– Questioned Documents
– Firearms, Ammunition, Firearms discharge residue, Explosives
– Vehicles and Vehicular components
– Drugs, Accelerants, Glass, Paint
– Blood pattern analysis
Forensic laboratories seeking accreditation are subject to a rigorous assessment process by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), incorporating a strict schedule of surveillance visits by reliable and competent assessors who are experienced in both accreditation processes and the relevant technical fields.