It has emerged over the weekend that hundreds of police prosecutions are to be re-investigated after concerns were raised over forensic samples possibly being manipulated at a company working for police forces across the UK.
It has been reported that a total of 484 cases in which people were prosecuted for offences such as drug and drink driving could now result in convictions being quashed, if the evidence used to prosecute them is found to have been tampered with.
According to reports, scientists working at Randox Testing Services, which provides testing for more than half of police forces in the UK, have been quizzed over alleged tampering of tests.
It means the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will now review swathes of court cases to see if “compromised data” affected them.
Police forces across UK reviewing prosecutions
Police forces have been provided with lists of cases which could have been affected and are currently reviewing their investigations to see if compromised data played a part in the prosecutions they brought.
It is obviously a serious situation, and if samples have been tampered with to ensure positive tests – as has been reported in the media – they could have led to some serious sentences which will have had a major impact on the lives of those wrongly found guilty, and their loved ones.
Drug-driving offences come with a minimum driving ban of a year, can carry a six month prison sentence, and obviously are a criminal record.
Drink-driving carries similar punishments, including prison sentences and driving bans of up to three years if a second offence.
A CPS spokesperson has said they are working with the Home Office, police and the Office of the Forensic Science Regulator to assess the impact of the testing failure at Randox Testing Services, as it looks to establish which cases have been affected and what action should be taken.
Criminal inquiry could result in hundreds of civil damages compensation claims
Randox alerted authorities after an internal probe last month found evidence to suggest ‘toxicology data was compromised’.
The matter of course is now a criminal inquiry.
Should it be found that samples have been tampered with and that people have been wrongly found guilty of a crime and sentenced as a result, they would almost certainly have a legal case to claim for compensation. Their lives, and reputations, will have suffered as a result of an unlawful prosecution.
The majority of samples are linked to criminal investigations, with most reportedly drug-driving.
For anyone who was convicted of such crimes, and seriously disputed the evidence at the time, alarm bells could now be ringing as to whether they were wrongly prosecuted.
Of course, it may take some time for the police investigation to uncover the full facts, and claims will only be forthcoming if the tampering is proved.
However, it would certainly be of use to speak to a lawyer to make them aware of your concerns, as if you have been a victim in this way, you’d have a right to seek compensation for the impact the wrongful prosecution had on your life.
We trust and expect the police, the CPS, the courts and all other parties who work with them to get matters like this right – it is that trust which our justice system is founded upon.
To think that law-abiding people could have been wrongly sentenced in this way is shocking, and if found to be true, people need holding to account.
Investigations must focus on preventing it from happening again, and the victims must be compensated fully.