Streamlined Forensic Reporting - Staged Reporting - Guidance for cases involving DNA evidence
The basis for charging shifted in 2004 from an "evidential" DNA profile match report, to an "intelligence" DNA profile match report, plus appropriate supporting evidence. After charge, the Match Report will need to be converted into an evidentially admissible document and consideration must be given to Staged Reporting and compliance with the Criminal Procedure Rules (CrPR) 2010, especially Rule 3, the identification of the issues (this is distinct from the obligations arising under section 5 of the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act (CPIA), 1996, the defence case statement)..
Staged reporting should always be considered when reviewing the case; a first stage abbreviated statement is used to encourage early co-operation/defence identification of issues/guilty plea. A second stage full evidential report is sought only in fully contested cases where the issue is the DNA or other forensic evidence.
Appendix B contains details of the SFR London pilot based upon the CPS Staged Reporting policy originally launched in August 2004. Staged reporting covers forensic science reports regarding DNA, fingerprints and in some cases, drugs and firearms. This London pilot has produced excellent results in terms of case management, as it actually emerged from the original national Staged Reporting work; plans have been underway for some years now for delivering a refined process for the full national rollout of Streamlined Forensic Reporting (SFR). Staged Reporting became known as SFR as a result of the London pilots as part of the CJ:SSS rollout.
The Manual of Guidance [MoG, which appears at Annex C] dated 2008 remains valid except where brought up to date below.
The MoG for police contains dedicated forms for forensic submissions to forensic science laboratories; The Directors Guidance on Charging(4th Edition) makes use of the mandatory forms; Section 11 of the MoG forensic submission form clearly requires the Prosecution Team (investigating officer and duty prosecutor) to identify the actual forensic issues, in compliance with the CrPR, rule 3.
1. There are three key elements to the Prosecution Team DNA Guidance (issued July 2004, updated January 2006):
1.1 The basis for charging has shifted from an "evidential" DNA profile match report, to an "intelligence" DNA profile match report, plus some appropriate supporting evidence. (See Annex 2 of Guidance.) After charge, the Match Report will need to be converted into an evidentially admissible document and consideration given to Staged Reporting / SFR.
1.2 SFR should always be considered when reviewing the case; a first stage abbreviated statement is used to encourage early co-operation/defence identification of issues/guilty plea. Second stage full evidential report is sought only in fully contested cases where the issue is the DNA or other forensic evidence. (See Annex 13 of the Guidance.)
1.3 The MoG for police contains dedicated forms for forensic submissions to forensic science laboratories; The Directors Guidance on Charging (4th edition) makes use of the form mandatory; Section 11 of the MoG forensic submission form clearly requires the Prosecution Team (investigating officer and duty prosecutor) to identify the actual forensic issues. (See Annex 10 of the Guidance.)
2. This guidance has been produced to reflect legal, scientific and process changes affecting the recording and use of DNA and other forensic samples. The purpose is to provide a tool to maximise the benefits of these reforms, whilst maintaining principles of fairness to suspects, victims and witnesses. The changes outlined in Annex 2 of the Guidance build on the CPS role as the national prosecution agency leading the way in efficient and effective case progression. The guidance also takes full account of the legal and process changes resulting from the CrPR 2010, particularly Rule 3.2(a) (duty of the parties to identify the issues in the case).
3. SFR is designed to make effective use of resources by encouraging admissions and matters not in issue as early as possible in order to focus on the actual disputed issues in the case. This is distinct from the obligations arising under the CPIA section 5 (defence case statement). Case building is targeted at the issues rather than producing extensive evidential material covering non-contentious points. These should be proactively dealt with by way of admissions where appropriate.
4. These principles and processes can apply to other Forensic areas, depending on local contractual arrangements. Home Office Circulars 58/2004 and 16/1995 cover these changes.
5. DNA Single Kit Testing
In April 2005, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) replaced existing DNA 1 and DNA 2 kits with a single evidential test. The single test kits provide an evidential audit trail and the profiles will be loaded onto the National DNA Database. This record will appear on the PNC with a Barcode serial number commencing 96 onwards.
In such cases, there is no longer a requirement to take a further DNA sample each time a suspect is arrested, although the Investigating Officer must follow the ACPO Guidance in making this decision.
- This of course does not alter the Prosecution Team obligation to provide the relevant continuity evidence, and if necessary appropriate evidence of identity in both the previous and instant case. This may take the form of linking the fingerprint evidence, or photographic evidence obtained on arrest, or possibly the Custody Records.
6. The Forensic Science Regulator
Following the recommendations of the Science and Technologys Select Committees seventh report, Forensic Science on Trial, 2005, the office of the Forensic Science Regulator was created in April 2007, see http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/agencies-public-bodies/fsr/
7. Low Template DNA Analysis, including Low Copy Number (LCN) and the Caddy Review 2008 and the Court of Appeal, December 2009.
In September 2007 the Regulator asked Professor Brian Caddy to review Low Template DNA analysis as offered by the main forensic science providers in the UK.
7.1 In December 2007, Mr Justice Wier handed down his judgment in the case of R v Hoey (the Omagh Bombing trial). In this first instance, Northern Ireland case, the police handling of forensic material was criticised, as was the purported validation of the Forensic Science Services form of Low Template analysis, called LCN, see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7154221.stm
- Note: You should be aware that Low Copy Number (LCN) is the registered trademark of the Forensic Science Services process called LCN. LCN is not a general term for the analysis of small, partial or mixed samples of DNA. The general term is Low Template Analysis (LTA). Mr Justice Weir did not criticise LTA, his (obiter) comments concerned only the FSS service called Low Copy Number. Other providers of LTA employ different processes which have all been subject to validation assessment.
7.2 In January 2008 the CPS, The Regulator and ACPO produced Prosecution Guidance to LCN and a Prosecutors Checklist, see http://www.cps.gov.uk/news/pressreleases/101_08.html
7.3 The Caddy Report on Low Template analysis was published in April 2008, see:http://police.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/operational-policing/response-caddy-dna-review
7.4 Two further suppliers of forensic science analysis also produced their own summary guidance on how their Low Template DNA analysis processes work. These were released by The Regulator, ACPO and the CPS in May 2008
7.5 In December 2009, the Court of Appeal dismissed two joined appeal cases involving Low Copy Number (LCN) DNA analysis;R v Reed & Reed; R v Garmson .
- The Court confirmed there had been no substantive attack on the science of LCN analysis. Reference was made to a document prepared for these proceedings which it considered should be used in the future as a basis for agreement between experts under the CrPR 2010, Rule 33. The document can be requested from the CPS and is called the "DNA Primer".
- In the judgment, please refer in particular to paragraphs 129 - 131 inclusive in which the Court has set out explicitly how it expects cases involving DNA evidence to pay the closest attention to the requirements of the Criminal Procedure Rules (2010), Rule 33, and the need to agree evidence or identify issues at an early stage, Rule 3. This principle is not limited to DNA evidence.
- The Court did not accept the evidence provided by the defence expert witness, Dr Allan Jamieson and went on to question how his evidence was admissible in the Omagh boming case (R v Hoey) as that was the first occasion he had given an opinion regarding LCN DNA analysis.
- The Forensic Science Service process for conducting LCN was held to be reliable, but it is important to note the guidelines spelt out by the Court in terms of sample size and quantification of the sample before carrying out the analysis (paragraphs 74 i) - v) inclusive).
- The Court ruled that an appropriately experienced scientist is fully entitled to offer an opinion regarding the transfer and persistence of small amounts of DNA, though emphasised that "it is the duty of the Crown and the defence to ensure that the necessary steps are taken to bring the matter back before the judge where a disagreement is identified" (p131 iii), which must occur before the trial.
Appendix A - DNA Glossary Of Terms And Abbreviations
Different forms of the DNA at any STR site; alleles are given numerical values which characterise the number of STR repeats present.
Part of the DNA strand used in the SGM+ test to characterise the sex of the individual.
Amplification (of DNA): see PCR
A result occurring in the DNA profile as a consequence of the DNA profiling process, rather than being intrinsic to the DNA being tested (see Stutter and Pull-up).
A-SNPs (autosomal single nucleotide polymorphisms):
This method of DNA analysis is designed to target very small lengths of DNA so that even degraded DNA that has broken into small fragments can be analysed.
Mouth swab used to take DNA samples from individuals.
A chance match is a match between two DNA profiles that are not from the same person. A chance match is more likely to occur when partial or SGM profiles are involved. Consequently, it is important to upgrade the DNA profile and/or obtain additional evidence.
This term defines the need for the prosecution to have a proper audit trail in relation to the exhibits relied upon in any case. The prosecution must be able to satisfy the court that there has been no break in the chain for the handling of any exhibit. This is usually achieved by obtaining statements from all individuals who have any dealings with an exhibit.
CS (Crime scene) samples:
A CS sample is a sample taken from a crime scene by a CSI or medical practitioner. It is analysed to evidential standards and compared with any other DNA samples relating to the offence. If no match is found, the profile will be added to and searched against profiles of individuals retained within the NDNAD. The CS sample will be retained by the laboratory.
CSI (Crime scene investigator):
A person who has been trained and authorised to examine scenes of crime and to recover evidence which can be assessed by a forensic science laboratory.
CJ (Criminal Justice sample):
A CJ sample was a sample taken from an individual who had been arrested, charged, reported for, cautioned or convicted of a recordable offence, using a DNA 1 kit. These samples are now taken using a PACE DNA sampling kit. They are analysed by a laboratory and retained; the record of the profile obtained is sent to the NDNAD for searching against all the profiles held there. They will be continuously searched thereafter against profiles from crime scenes and other individuals on record.
The breakdown of the integrity of the DNA strand through age or chemical insult resulting in a relative loss of longer DNA (STR) fragments
Deoxyribonucleic Acid. This is molecule found in most cells of all people, animals, plants and other organic matter. The cells are the building blocks of any living organism, of which the human body has countless millions. Variations in the DNA code are responsible for physical differences between individuals including sex, height, hair and eye colour
By gel or capillary: the process by which individual STR alleles are separated according to size in a suitable matrix by the application of an electric current.
Familial searching is a process which allows potential relatives of offenders to be identified on the NDNAD when the offenders profile is not on the NDNAD. It is based on the premise that the DNA profiles of individuals who are related to each other are more likely to contain similarities than the DNA profiles of two unrelated individuals.
FER (Forensic examination record):
This continuity log provides details of all assistants who have handled an exhibit or material derived from an exhibit. It is used to avoid the need to provide full continuity statements when the defence do not dispute the continuity evidence.
FSP Forensic Service Provider
FSS Forensic Science Service
Where an individual has inherited two different STR alleles at any particular site such that two results are recorded in the DNA profile e.g. VWA 16 18.
Where an individual has inherited two copies of the same STR allele e.g. VWA 16 16.
Intelligence led screens
An intelligence led screen is conducted when, during major crime investigations, it is desirable to seek a DNA sample, on a voluntary basis, from a number of people who may possibly have some association with a crime or crime scene. This is, principally, with a view to eliminating them from the enquiry. These samples are used only for comparison with the relevant crime scene(s). They are then usually destroyed, unless separate written consent has been obtained from the volunteer to have the profile loaded to the NDNAD
Likelihood Ratio (LR):
The probability of the evidence given the prosecution proposition divided by the probability of the evidence given the defence proposition.
Low Copy Number (LCN):
Analysis and interpretation process by the FSS Ltd. incorporating 34 cycles of PCR used for samples containing extremely small amounts of DNA. See also Low Template DNA Analysis (LTDNAA).
Low Template Analysis:
LTDNA profiling analysis is the term used for non-standard DNA profiling of extremely small amounts of DNA.
The standard method of profiling is effective when examining identifiable body fluids. There are situations, however, when the body fluids are not identifiable such as touch DNA or when examining bone or teeth samples and material on microscope slides. As a result of the increasing desire to produce profiles from these extremely small amounts of DNA material, research has been carried out and three methods of LTDNA profiling have been developed:
1. LCN (provided by FSS Ltd);
2. DNA Enhanced/3100 Enhancement provided by Cellmark Forensic Services (Cellmark);
3. DNA SenCE provided by LGC Forensics (LGC).
In a DNA mixture the overlap of the same allele originating from different contributors.
The probability that an unknown individual will have a particular profile, given that a known individual has that profile.
MtDNA / Mitochondrial DNA:
Mitochondrial DNA is found in the mitochondria of the cell and is associated with the energy production functions of the cell. Its analysis is very different from that of the DNA found in the cell nucleus and mitochondrial DNA profiles are not compatible with the DNA profiles on the NDNAD. Mitochondrial DNA profiles are less discriminating than STR profiles (SGM/SGM+) but are useful when STR profiles cannot be obtained
DNA founding the nucleus of cells. Nuclear DNA is packaged into 23 pairs of chromosomes and is used as the template for STR DNA profiling
PACE DNA sampling kit:
A PACE DNA sampling kit is used to take DNA samples from individuals who have been arrested for a recordable offence and are detained at a police station. All samples taken using a PACE DNA sampling kit are processed to an evidential standard and the DNA profile obtained will automatically be added to the NDNAD.
An SGM profile is a partial SGM+ profile. Partial profiles may also result when a CS sample is deficient in either quantity or quality and it has only been possible to obtain part of the potential profile. This limited information will inhibit the comparison that can be made between the suspect and the CS sample. It is advisable to contact the scientist who analysed the CS sample, as they may be able to give an indication as to the strength of the potential evidence.
This is the analysis of DNA to determine the parentage of a child by comparing the DNA profile of the child with the DNA profiles of the mother and the alleged father
Polymerase chain reaction -technique used for targeting and amplifying specific regions of DNA.
PED (Police elimination database):
The PED contains DNA profiles of police officers, crime scene investigators and police ancillary personnel who are in a position to cause contamination inadvertently. The profiles of most operational police officers are now included on the PED.
A short synthetic piece of DNA introduced into the PCR process to initiate the copying of the STR sites. Each primer is fluorescently labelled so that the copied STR allele can be visually detected and its length measured.
Profile (full and partial):
The STR alleles detected in numerical format. In the SGM+ test and full profile would mean that all of the 10 STR sites targeted would have successfully produced a result. Any number of alleles short of this complement is termed a partial (incomplete) profile.
Pull-up: see artefact.
An artefact resulting from the fluorescent detection of the STR alleles.
The measurement of the amount of DNA in the forensic sample.
SGM Plus (SGM+):
DNA STR profiling system utilised by the FSS since July 1999 and other providers since 2003. Examines 10 STR sites and the sex test site Amelogenin.
Figure 1: General DNA Profiling Method SGM+
Collection: Swabbing or taping to recover DNA containing material.
Extraction: Chemical process to release DNA from cells and remove contaminants.
Quantification: Determines quantity of DNA present.
Dilution/Concentration: Optimises the quantity of DNA for amplification.
Amplication: Produces multiple copies of DNA of interest.
Seperation: Separates DNA by length of fragment (Electrophoresis).
Interpretation: Allows assignment of numerical values to the profile.
STR (short tandem repeat) profiling
The current method of DNA profiling is known as profiling Short Tandem Repeats (STR profiling). This technique looks at specific short lengths of the DNA. These short pieces are repeated, end-to-end, within the DNA molecule. Different people will have different numbers of repeats of these pieces and hence different lengths of this repeated DNA. The STR profiling technique examines the length of these repeat units and converts the length into a numerical output
A miscopying of the DNA template during the PCR reaction. Usually a stutter produces a product shorter by one repeat unit.
Volunteer DNA sampling kit:
The Volunteer DNA sampling kit is used to take DNA samples from volunteers, victims and others whose profile is required for elimination purposes e.g. during intelligence-led screens
Y-STRs (Y-chromosome short tandem repeats):
Analysis of the short tandem repeats (STRs) on the Y-chromosome can demonstrate relationships between male members in a family
Y-SNPs (Y-chromosome single nucleotide polymorphisms):
Y-SNPs are markers on the Y-chromosome that are inherited down the paternal line. The Y-SNPs change very little between generations and it is possible to use the analysis of Y-SNPs to infer an individuals possible ethnicity.
Appendix B - SFR London pilot and National background
The SFR London pilot is the result of a 2 year local pilot based upon the CPS Staged Reporting policy originally launched in August 2004. Staged reporting covered forensic science reports regarding DNA, fingerprints and in some cases, drugs and firearms. Whilst this London pilot has produced excellent results in terms of case management, as it in fact emerged from the original national Staged Reporting work; plans have already been underway for some years now for delivering a refined process for the full national rollout of SFR.
1. Staged Reporting was initially an early vehicle for compliance with the emerging reform tools for Case Management (Effective Trial Management Programme, [ETMP]), which in turn became the CrPR 2005. Staged reporting was implemented successfully by many CPS Areas, though by no means all.
2. As the need for meaningful compliance with the CrPR, particularly Part 3 the early identification of the issues has become more pressing over the years, CPS HQ (Policy), law enforcement partners and forensic providers have continued to work together on communication, consistency and process improvements in support of the CrPR requirements.
3. In recent years the CPS SPD has been at the forefront of the SFR development along with key partners: ACPO, NPIA, National DNA Database Strategy Board, The Forensic Science Regulator and eight of the key 12 forensic science providers for police forces. Please note that FSS is now only one of several commercial providers of forensic services to law enforcement agencies, and is due to cease trading in March 2012; please also note that England & Wales remains the only jurisdiction in the world to have commercialised the provision of forensic science analysis for a criminal justice system.
4. Streamlined forensic reporting (SFR) is therefore also designed to minimise the potential impact of commercial competition within our adversarial system (eg; a Court of Appeal ruling could secure market advantage for one provider over another). The emphasis has been on enabling agreement wherever possible so that the jury are only troubled with any science actually in issue.
5. SFR is best summarised as Proportionate Prosecuting and can be illustrated thus; in a case where rape is alleged but the only issue is consent, a simple DNA match report is all that is required there is no need for full DNA analysis to establish the identity of the perpetrator. Staged reporting and now the more comprehensive SFR will be in place to enable a more strategic and resource effective use of forensic analysis in both volume and serious cases.
6. Please see attached the following extracts:
- Annex A: Basic cost summary provided to the National DNA Database in the early stages of SFR; used to illustrate actual saving achieved by Staged Reporting in DNA
- Annex B: Short summary paper discussing disclosure issues in volume cases in relation to the LJ Gross review of Disclosure. I have highlighted the section referring to the take up of SFR by CPS Prosecutors and Areas. This has been patchy and has not so far made the best use of the process. The London pilot has seen initial significant resistance to change from experienced prosecutors, but this has seen a dramatic change in recent months; and
- Annex C: Draft guidance for SFR and Annex D: Draft CJS SFR flow chart.
Operational Impact and Cost Considerations
7. The key objective is to achieve a proportionate prosecution process whilst maintaining fairness and compliance with the CrPR 2010. At present only very broad resource saving data is available. Further considerations need to be included as part of the disclosure review and the paperless files proposals.
Appendix C - Guidance on DNA Charging
Appendix C : Guidance on DNA Charging
Appendix C : Guidance on DNA ChargingPDF file 1.1 MB