Forensics In Crisis

Episodes

TitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
Crisis In Court20150505
Crisis In Court2015050520150511 (R4)

Are DNA results being misinterpreted in criminal cases?

In this series, science journalist Linda Geddes investigates why forensic science has fallen into crisis, and what can be done to restore confidence in the field.

Programme 3:

In March 2015, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were finally acquitted of the murder of Meredith Kercher. The case hinged on DNA results that were later overturned in court.

In this episode, Linda Geddes looks at why this evidence was unreliable and how it was misinterpreted in the courtroom.

DNA testing is being increasingly relied upon by UK police to secure convictions. But leading experts such as Prof Peter Gill, who helped to pioneer DNA fingerprinting in the 1980s, are concerned that the technique is being overstretched.

As we become able to detect ever smaller amounts of DNA, from more than one person, the sources of error and uncertainty are increasing.

Defence lawyers fear that DNA evidence isn't being adequately cross-examined in court, due to complexity of the analysis needed to produce results.

Could our unwavering faith in DNA evidence be misplaced?

Producer: Michelle Martin.

Crisis In Research2015042120150427 (R4)

Is forensic evidence becoming increasingly unreliable? Linda Geddes investigates.

There is a growing sense of crisis inside the world of forensic science. Recent high profile cases such as Jill Dando and Amanda Knox have highlighted serious problems with the way testing is carried out.

Techniques from fingerprint analysis to DNA identification have been found wanting, as cases collapse and are overturned. Plummeting forensic spending by police forces has left a newly privatised industry in England and Wales on the brink of failure.

In this series, science journalist Linda Geddes investigates why forensic science has fallen into crisis, and what can be done to restore confidence in the field.

Programme 1:

The UK was once a world leader in forensic research, with DNA fingerprinting invented at the University of Leicester in 1984, a technique which revolutionised the investigation of crime.

Now forensic scientists claim we are falling dangerously behind the rest of the world in terms of research and development, relying on outdated equipment and unvalidated techniques.

Linda Geddes hears from leading researchers who are speaking out to try and prevent more miscarriages of justice.

Crisis In The Lab2015042820150504 (R4)

Are specialist forensic techniques used to catch killers and paedophiles under threat?

There is a growing sense of crisis inside the world of forensic science. Recent high profile cases such as Jill Dando and Amanda Knox have highlighted serious problems with the way testing is carried out.

In this series, science journalist Linda Geddes investigates why forensic science has fallen into crisis, and what can be done to restore confidence in the field.

Programme 2:

This week, Linda looks at the crisis in the laboratory. Leading experts fear that severe budget cuts, together with an increased reliance on police laboratories, could throw our criminal justice system into jeopardy.

She hears from a former police laboratory worker who says that vital tests are being missed, and visits a forensic fibre laboratory to find out why specialist techniques used to catch killers, paedophiles and rapists, are in danger of dying out.