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Science News - August 1, 2013

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Posted: August 1, 2013   5:30 PM

The forensic community in the United Kingdom faces problems after the closing of a national agency, the New York Inspector General found that a police detective completed work at an unaccredited lab, and the Virginia Attorney General supports enhancement of a computer forensic lab. Here is the round up of news for the week:
After the closing of the Forensic Science Service, a national agency that served the forensic needs of much of the UK, the Science and Technology Committee has published a report that describes an unstable and chaotic market for forensic services. Furthermore, the UK now lacks a central strategy driven by the needs of the criminal justice community and the private labs may not meet various standards and quality benchmarks. Officials say the environment could lead to miscarriages of justice.
The New York Inspector General found that the work performed by a detective at a local Syracuse university amounted to forensic analyses completed at an unaccredited lab. While the Inspector General found the detective could be subject to a fine for his actions, the university does not appear to have violated any state laws.
The Virginia Attorney General will use nearly $1 million dollars to enhance a computer forensic lab by adding 9,800 square feet, three additional staff members and more computer servers to speed analysis. The improvements will allow a streamlined evidence drop off and storage process, allowing investigators and staff to handle cases more effectively.
Cliff Spiegelman, a Texas A&M professor of statistics, will join the Technical Advisory Group of the Houston Forensic Science Local Government Corporation to provide technical advice to the newly formed crime lab. His expertise in applying statistics to forensics will aid other national members to support the independent lab which formed after chronic errors plagued the old Houston Police Department crime lab.

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