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Expert Witnesses - how to find one

Why we don't hold a register

CPS HQ and Areas receive frequent requests to recommend an expert witness for the purpose of providing expert reports and opinion evidence in a specialised field. Frequent requests are also received for access to or the existence of a CPS Register of Experts.

The CPS does not hold a register of experts. As an independent prosecution service it would be inappropriate to appear to endorse any expert by entering them on an internal list. We are not in a position to quality assure individuals or organisations who provide expert witness services to the Criminal Justice System (CJS), other than in exercising our duty, on a case by case basis, to determine whether the expert is appropriately qualified to give opinion evidence in the evidential field required.

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Expert Witnesses and the Independence of the Prosecutor

As an independent prosecution service it would be inappropriate to appear to endorse any expert by entering them on an internal list, because:

  • We are not in a position to quality assure individuals or organisations who provide expert witness services to the CJS, other than in exercising our duty on a case by case basis;
  • The assurance of quality standards has become particularly important in the field of forensic science as the provision of scientific products and services for the CJS has now been commercialised since 2005; and,
  • All police forces now operate under full commercial procurement procedures and contracts with suppliers.

CPS is mindful of the obligations upon public organisations to tender for the provision of any commercial service, this includes the provision of expert reports and opinion evidence.

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Finding an Expert Witness - Sources of Information

The National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA) used to hold a database of information about experts in some fields. The database has been passed to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) which became the National Crime Agency (NCA). It is best to check with the NCA about the information they currently hold on experts in particular fields.

The Forensic Science Regulator (FSR) is now responsible for setting applicable quality management standards for validation of scientific processes and accreditation of individuals, although this will not be fully implemented until 2013. The FSR works in partnership with the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) in setting and assessing applicable standards such as ISO 17025 and ISO 17020.

Some of the principal commercial organisations in England and Wales representing the interests and services of a variety of expert witnesses can be found on the Internet and specialist libraries.

Information on experts should also be found via their professional representative/regulatory body, e.g. dentists, forensic accountants, forensic psychologists.

Via the internet, access is available to huge amount of information for those searching for experts who do not belong to any professional body.

Further information about the use of expert witnesses in the CJS can be found on the CPS website in the publication "Guidance Booklet for Expert Witnesses" (also known as Annex K of the ACPO CPS Disclosure Manual).

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Selecting an Expert Witness

When selecting an expert, it may also be useful to consider the requirements of Rule 33 of the Criminal Procedure Rules to ensure you are able to explain exactly what will be required of them in giving their evidence. It is also essential that expert witnesses complete Annex C of the CPS Guidance Booklet.

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