HC Deb 12 March 2002 vol 381 cc981-2W
Harry Cohen

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how a convicted person claiming innocence and seeking review or appeal can ascertain whether new DNA proofing techniques would have relevance in his or her case; how he or she can ensure that it is applied to the evidence and the results made known; and if he will make a statement. [38995]

Mr. Keith Bradley

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has the statutory power to preserve any material, including forensic material, which it thinks necessary for a review of a case. The commission exercises this power as necessary in relation to applications made to it, where the process of normal appeal has been exhausted or where there are exceptional circumstances. It also maintains close contact with the Forensic Science Service so that the commission is aware of the latest developments in this field. The commission will determine whether DNA or other forensic tests are required in light of all the factors of a case and will authorise such tests as it believes necessary. The results of any tests would be disclosed in accordance with the provisions of the Criminal Appeal Act 1995 and the commission's policy on disclosure.

As for those who are seeking to overturn via the normal appeal process, any individual is free to commission the Forensic Science Service or other forensic science organisations to undertake further DNA profiling tests, providing there is a sufficient amount of retained material and provided payment can be met.

The Forensic Science Service can give guidance as to whether there is sufficient material left to undertake further tests; and if further DNA profiling tests would provide more information than is already available. It will also provide an estimate for the cost of carrying out any further tests. The Forensic Science Service requires that any requests of this nature are communicated through a solicitor, who will be in a position to advise the individual. Individual contracts and terms of business are agreed with any instructing solicitors or legal representatives.