30 Jan 2023
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the Forensic Science Regulator (FSR) have now concluded their reviews into Synlab Laboratory Services Limited’s (Synlab) analysis of drug driving samples, specifically Section 5A Road Traffic Act toxicology testing for controlled drugs.
The conclusion of the reviews is that due to issues identified with the quality assurance processes utilised by Synlab, all results produced by Synlab between April 2019 and December 2020, where they reported results above the prescribed drug driving limit, need to be withdrawn as evidence. No evidence was found during the review of any malicious intent.
In December 2020, Synlab reported an issue to the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) and the FSR, and stopped any further processing of Section 5A samples. Subsequently Synlab’s UKAS accreditation was suspended. From January 2021, a review led by the NPCC was established which included representatives from the Association of Police & Crime Commissioners, the FSR, UKAS, the Home Office and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), to review the issues identified and determine the impact on the results that had been produced.
During the first half of 2021 the results were subject to initial reviews and these led to a number of them being rescinded. In September 2021, the NPPC and partners, instructed a further significant review of Synlab’s processes and data for the remaining results. The findings of this work concluded that the analysis and processes were not conducted to the appropriate standard and as a result the remaining evidential results also needed to be withdrawn.
Between April 2019 and December 2020, Synlab undertook Section 5A drug drive analysis of 4,255 samples.
National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Forensics, Chief Constable Nick Dean, said:
“This has been a lengthy and in-depth review, which I know has been hugely challenging for those individuals who are impacted by the results. I would like to commend their patience while we have worked through the data. The reviews were done, at such a detailed level, because we are committed to ensuring evidence entering the courts is reliable. We take any issues seriously and wanted to ensure due diligence was taken to achieve the correct outcome.
"Synlab have been very forthcoming and open during the reviews, which we welcome. I want to thank all our partners who have spent many hours reviewing and working hard to try and get this right.
“It is hugely regrettable, whenever evidence that has been submitted to the courts in good faith has to be withdrawn. We know that this will have significant knock-on effects for people. The CPS have been or will be contacting all those whose samples have been rescinded."
This is the final outcome and marks the conclusion of the NPCC led review.
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