Up to 1,700 drug drivers could have their prosecutions overturned after review found results of hundreds of lab tests will have to be withdrawn as evidence
- More than 1,700 drug-driving prosecutions could be thrown out over lab results
- Issues uncovered with tests undertaken between April 2019-December 2020
More than 1,700 drug-driving prosecutions are set to be thrown out after a probe found that hundreds of laboratory tests used in police evidence were incorrect.
Issues were uncovered with drug-driving tests carried out by Synlab Laboratory Services Limited between April 2019 and December 2020 – with the National Police Chiefs’ Council today revealing those samples affected would be withdrawn.
The Crown Prosecution Service is now contacting those affected by the development, with the evidence used against them now being thrown out.
In all, the 1,778 positive drug samples used as evidence where a driver’s levels were found to be above the prescribed limit will now be withdrawn, leaving prosecutors fearing that their convictions could now be thrown out.
Issues were uncovered with drug-driving tests carried out by Synlab Laboratory Services Limited between April 2019 and December 2020 – with the National Police Chiefs’ Council today revealing those samples affected would be withdrawn [File image]
In all, the 1,778 positive drug samples used as evidence where a driver’s levels were found to be above the prescribed limit will now be withdrawn. [File image]
The latest review comes after the company ‘identified issues with its analysis of drug-driving samples’ in December and an investigation found quality control criteria used to verify analytical results was ‘not always applied consistently’, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said.
Over the affected period, Synlab analysed 4,255 samples, of which 2,181 had no drug present or a level of drug below the prescribed limit.
There were 296 samples from cases which were discontinued or there was no conviction at court.
The remaining 1,778 samples had drug levels reported by Synlab to be above the prescribed limit, but these results have now been withdrawn.
NPCC lead for forensics, Chief Constable Nick Dean, said today: ‘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.
The Crown Prosecution Service is now contacting those convicted of drug-driving and affected by the latest review, with the evidence used against them now being thrown out [File image]
‘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.’
Darryl Preston, forensic lead for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, said: ‘This review has taken some time, however it was crucial to ensuring it was carried out meticulously with the proper resolution.
‘There is no doubt this will have been a challenging time for all those affected, and I would like to praise them for their patience. It is vital that all evidence entering the courts is unfailing and it is for that reason that we ensured the review was conducted to the highest standard.
‘We are disappointed that cases have been rescinded and the implications this has on justice, but we welcome the Forensic Science Regulator’s review of these cases.’
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