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SECTION 3: REVIEWS OF THE SCRO FINGERPRINT BUREAU 

Introduction

354. The Committee has given detailed consideration to the implications of the McKie case for fingerprint services in Scotland.  The case prompted an unprecedented level of inspection, scrutiny and review of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau in particular.

355. Since 2000, the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau in Glasgow and the Scottish Fingerprint Service have been the subject of a great number of formal inspections and reviews.  The following reports have been examined by the Committee—

  • HMIC Primary Inspection of SCRO Fingerprint Bureau 2000 (May 2000)
  • ACPOS Change Management Review Team (October 2000)
  • Mackay inquiry report (synopsis - August 2006) (Original report - October 2000)
  • HMIC Primary Inspection of SCRO 2000 (December 2000)
  • HMIC Second Year Review of SCRO Primary Inspection 2000 (2001)
  • HMIC Third Year Review of SCRO 2000 (2003)
  • HMIC SCRO Primary Inspection 2004

356. By considering the key findings, recommendations and action points arising from each of these reports, the Committee has been able to build up a picture of the problems facing the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau and the process by which these problems were addressed.

357. As a first step, the Committee considered the findings of the HMIC Primary Inspection of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau 2000.  The Committee used this report’s findings as a baseline to assess the extent of the reforms which have taken place since 2000.  The Committee has given particular consideration to certain key themes which emerged from the recommendations made by HMIC.

358. In conjunction with the HMIC report, the Committee also considered the findings and recommendations of the initial ACPOS response to HMIC’s conclusions, prepared by the Change Management Review Team, including the steps taken by SCRO and other stakeholders to implement the HMIC recommendations. 

359. Evidence from the synopsis of the Mackay inquiry report, as provided to the Committee by the Lord Advocate, which relates to organisational and operational matters within the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, is also considered in this section. 

360. Finally, in this section of the report, the Committee focuses attention on the findings of subsequent inspections carried out by HMIC to assess the extent of change made to the Glasgow Bureau by the time of the next HMIC Primary Inspection of SCRO in 2004.

HMIC Primary Inspection of SCRO Fingerprint Bureau 2000

Background and Remit

361. HMIC was scheduled to conduct a Primary (full) Inspection of the Scottish Criminal Record Office in December 2000 as part of its regular cycle of inspections.  A primary inspection of SCRO had last been conducted in 1995 followed by a review inspection in 1998.204

362. On 18 January 2000, a BBC Frontline Scotland television programme was broadcast in which it was alleged that SCRO fingerprint officers had made a mistake in their identification of mark Y7. 

363. In his oral evidence to the Committee, Sir William Rae explained how ACPOS responded to the programme’s broadcast—

“The programme contained information about the way in which the fingerprint was identified.  It started a media scrum, as a consequence of which the chief constable of Strathclyde Police at the time asked ACPOS to put the matter on the agenda for our meeting of 7 February 2000.  At that meeting, the chief constables discussed the furore on the fingerprint identification.  From our perspective, the conclusion was that the best interests of the criminal justice system would be served by the fingerprint identification being independently assessed by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary.”205 

364. Sir William explained that at that stage it was not within the chief constables' power to initiate such an inspection.  However, on that same afternoon, a meeting of the SCRO Executive Committee (comprising the eight chief constables, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary and representatives of the Scottish Executive and COSLA) was also held at which a presentation was given by some of the SCRO staff on the fingerprint identification.  Following the presentation and in the context of the SCRO Executive Committee meeting, the Committee decided to ask HMIC to commission an independent assessment of mark Y7.206

365. Following the request from the SCRO Executive Committee, the then HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, William Taylor QPM, agreed to re-visit the disputed fingerprint identification in the case of HMA v Shirley McKie as part of an inspection of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau.  The inspection was brought forward and pre-inspection work started in April 2000.  This culminated in the formal Primary Inspection visit by Mr Taylor which took place on 22 and 23 May 2000.207

366. It is important to note that this was the first time that HMIC had conducted an inspection of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau in isolation from the rest of SCRO.  The detailed level of scrutiny applied by HMIC during the inspection is reflected in its report. 

367. It is clear to the Committee that the important decisions to bring forward the HMIC inspection process and to isolate the Fingerprint Bureau from the rest of SCRO were taken in direct response to the broadcast of the Frontline Scotland programme and subsequent media coverage of the McKie case.

368. In oral evidence, Mr Taylor explained that he was asked to bring forward the inspection and to separate the fingerprint bureau from SCRO as a whole because of particular concern about the identification in one case, namely that of Shirley McKie.208  In a supplementary submission, Mr Taylor confirmed that the remit for the inspection was set by and was the responsibility of HMIC.209

369. The final inspection report makes clear that it was unusual for an inspection to be brought forward on the basis of there being concerns raised by a single criminal case.  However, the report also makes clear that the methodology for the inspection was normal and the purpose was standard, namely to examine the efficiency and effectiveness of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau and to make recommendations with a view to securing continuous improvement.210

370. The inspection involved an examination of the acquisition, examination and presentation of fingerprint evidence and a review of the training skills and quality assurance aspects of the processes in operation within the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau.211

HMIC report - conclusions and recommendations

371. The inspection report was formally published on 14 September 2000.  In its overall assessment, HMIC concluded that the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau was “unable to provide a fully efficient and effective service with its present level of staffing, resources, processes and structures.”212 

372. The report made a total of 25 recommendations and 20 suggestions for improvement.  A summary of the recommendations and the subsequent HMIC inspection at which they were discharged can be found in Annexe B to this report.

373. HMIC directed particular criticism towards oversight management arrangements and under-resourcing of the Bureau, including the lack of sufficient fingerprint officers, infrastructure, administrative support and deficiencies in the working environment.  Key areas such as training and quality assurance were identified as having “not been given the priority and attention… necessary to secure their worth.”213  In relation to these matters, the report concluded—

“A number of the short term solutions being put in place to manage demands are unsatisfactory and unsustainable.  Without a substantial injection of finance, a radical re-organisation of the provision of fingerprint services in Scotland and more active management of the functions this key element of the Scottish criminal justice system is unlikely to return to full effectiveness and efficiency.”214

374. The key themes and recommendations arising from the HMIC report are discussed later in this section.

ACPOS response to HMIC report

375. Following the release by HMIC of the emerging findings of the inspection in June 2000, ACPOS set up a Presidential Review Group (APRG)215 under the direction of the then ACPOS President, William Rae.  ACPOS also established a Change Management Review Team (CMRT) to undertake a 90-day scrutiny of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau.  The Team was led by Kenny McInnes, Deputy Chief Constable, Fife Constabulary.

376. The CMRT was given the task of providing the APRG with an action plan “to allow early implementation of measures necessary to ensure a fully effective and efficient fingerprint service for the Scottish Police Service” including references to management, staffing, resources, standards of performance and quality control issues.216

377. In its report, published in October 2000, the CMRT responded to each recommendation and suggestion made by HMIC, including identifying lead organisations responsible for addressing specific action points accompanied by defined target timescales.

378. Building on the work carried out by HMIC, the report included detailed consideration of the structural, management and resource issues facing both the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau and wider fingerprint service in Scotland at that time.

Mark Y7 element of the inspection

379. As part of the inspection, it was agreed that HMIC would examine the circumstances of the McKie case in the context of the processes employed by the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau and by fingerprint experts in forces bureaux across Scotland.  In addition, HMIC agreed to arrange a further examination of the disputed identification of mark Y7.217

380. When he appeared before the Committee, Mr Taylor stressed that the process was an inspection and not an investigation and, as such, it looked at the organisation rather than individuals, and at areas of performance and potential improvement rather than liability and culpability.218

381. In supplementary written evidence, responding to a request from the Committee for clarification as to whether the inspection remit included identification of improper conduct by staff or management within the bureau, Mr Taylor confirmed that if any issue is identified that HMIC considers requires reference to others, e.g. the Procurator Fiscal, then this would be done.  However, in this instance, Mr Taylor provided confirmation that this had not occurred—

“There was no matter (beyond that in the recommendations) that required specific attention or reference to a third party - such as allegations of crime or breaches of civil law.  Any action by others subsequent to the Inspection by HMIC was their responsibility and was not as a result of a direct report from HMIC seeking specific action.”219

382. In relation to the examination of mark Y7, Mr Taylor confirmed that he was asked by the SCRO Executive Committee to do so as part of the inspection process.  He explained that, overall, 24 cases were examined to see how matters were handled, which was normal practice, but he continued—

“In this case we went the extra mile by having an expert examine the mark.  It was my view that that would not necessarily add a great deal to the inspection process.  The debate involved my making it clear that I would examine the case in order to inform the inspection process.  It was not an investigation and it had no criminal, civil or disciplinary implications – that was not my role.”220

Selection of international experts

383. Mr Taylor also confirmed that it was he who took the decision to select Arie Zeelenberg and Torger Rudrud as the experts to examine the mark having spoken with chief constables in Europe in order to identify someone to help.221 

384. Anthony McKenna, one of the SCRO fingerprint officers who had verified the original identification of mark Y7 submitted evidence that he and his colleagues had been given assurances that whoever was selected by HMIC to re-examine mark Y7 would be acceptable to them.222  His colleague Charles Stewart submitted—

“…when we were promised by the HMIC that they would use experts we would consider to be our equals, we warned them not to use the Dutch and explained the basis and conclusions of the Evett and Williams report to them, and explained how it found the Dutch to be lacking in fingerprint identification skills as they spectacularly failed to identify the correct number of identifications.”223

385. Arie Zeelenberg and Torger Rudrud independently conducted a comparison of the latent mark found at the crime scene and the fingerprints taken from Shirley McKie for elimination purposes.  Both experts were clear in their opinion that there was sufficient detail in the mark found at the crime scene to make an identification.224  The Primary Inspection report stated that—

“Two of the experts, independently, conducted a comparison of the latent mark found at the crime scene and the fingerprints taken from Shirley McKie for elimination purposes.  The two experts who made the comparison were clear in their opinion that there was sufficient detail in the mark found at the crime scene to make an identification.  Both experts are unequivocally of the opinion that the mark was not made by Shirley McKie.  It is their view that [that] decision could have been reached at an early point in the comparison process.”225

386. As a result of this opinion, HMIC held a meeting on 21 June 2000 with members of the SCRO Executive Committee, the SCRO Deputy Director (Supt. Brian Gorman) and representatives from the Scottish Executive, ACPOS and Crown Office at which HMIC presented the emerging findings of the inspection.226 

387. HMIC made the result of the re-examination known to the McKie family at “the earliest practicable opportunity”.227  In oral evidence Mr Taylor told the Committee that his lead staff officer had advised the McKie family of the outcome of the fingerprint examination on 22 June 2000, the day that Mr Taylor announced his emerging findings.228

388. On 22 June 2000, HMIC's emerging findings were reported to the Scottish Parliament in a statement by Jim Wallace MSP, the then Deputy First Minister and Minister for Justice.

389. In advance of the publication in September 2000 of the formal report by HMIC, Sir William Rae, then Chief Constable of Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary and incoming President of ACPOS, met with the McKie family and personally apologised for the trauma and distress suffered as a consequence of the misidentification of the fingerprint mark.229

Committee conclusions on mark Y7 element of inspection

390. Despite being described as a routine inspection, the Committee considers that the HMIC inspection of the SCRO Finger Print Bureau in 2000 differed from normal practice—

  • In addition to the normal terms of reference, the inspection also focused on the difference of opinion regarding the identification of one particular mark -Y7 (which involved the decision to go outside the bureau and ask a Dutch and a Norwegian expert to examine the disputed mark); and
  • The HMIC emerging findings were reported to the media three months before the release of the final report.

391. With the benefit of hindsight, the Committee considers that much of the subsequent controversy over the status of mark Y7 could have been avoided if HMIC had secured the advance agreement of the SCRO fingerprint officers to accept the conclusions of these independent experts and, to this end, had consulted the SCRO fingerprint officers on the selection of the independent experts.  The Committee recognises, however, that this could have raised issues about the independence of this element of the inspection and that the final decision on selection of the experts had to rest with HMIC.

392. In relation to the early announcement of HMIC’s emerging findings, it is clear to the Committee that there had been exchanges between HMIC and ACPOS as the inspection progressed.  Given the emerging findings, ACPOS decided that early action was required.  The Committee agrees that it was right that this early action took place given the nature of the problems identified by HMIC.  The Committee, however, considers that the manner in which HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary William Taylor chose to make public his emerging findings undermined the good intentions he had in so doing.

393. The Committee is concerned that HMIC made arrangements to inform the McKie family of the emerging findings in advance of the public announcement.

394. The Committee has strong concerns that HMIC went to press with emerging findings in the absence of a written report which set these findings in context.  The failure of HMIC to publish an interim report to substantiate the emerging findings prevented elected members and others with a legitimate interest from considering the findings in context and subjecting them to detailed scrutiny at that time.

395. The Committee considers that these failings enabled criticism to be levelled that, by taking the approach that he did, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary was primarily acting in response to intense media pressure and a high profile campaign.

396. Despite these concerns, the Committee considers that the HMIC inspection of processes and procedures within the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau was extremely detailed and thorough.  The Committee is satisfied that the HMIC inspection highlighted serious operational problems within the Bureau.  The Committee now turns its attention to the findings contained in the HMIC report.

Key themes

397. The Committee considers that the key themes which emerged from the HMIC inspection of the fingerprint bureau may be broadly grouped into five general headings—

  • Structure of fingerprint services in Scotland;
  • Leadership and management;
  • Human resources;
  • Procedures; and
  • Quality Assurance.

398. The Committee considers below the findings of HMIC, the response of the ACPOS Change Management Review Team and other evidence received from witnesses to the inquiry in relation to each of these themes.

Structure of fingerprint services in Scotland

399. HMIC considered recommendations made by the Scottish Fingerprint Service Working Group (SFSWG) and subsequent consultants’ reports for a rationalisation of the existing structure of fingerprint services in Scotland. 

Scottish Fingerprint Service Working Group (SFSWG)

400. The SFSWG was established in May 1997 by the SCRO Controlling Committee to consider concerns raised in 1996 by the Head of SCRO over ‘impending difficulties’ within the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau which ‘required urgent resolution to prevent a serious reduction to the quality of service provided by SCRO’.  The Group was chaired by John Hamilton, Chief Constable of Fife Constabulary.230

401. The SFSWG examined the impact which the Automatic Fingerprint Recognition (AFR) system, Livescan and other technical developments were having on fingerprint services in Scotland, and SCRO in particular.

402. The difficulties experienced by the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau were closely related to the introduction of Livescan, a national system which allowed an individual’s fingerprints to be captured by optical and electronic scanning. 

403. From April 1997, SCRO began operating a 24 hour identification service on behalf of all Scottish police forces utilising the Livescan and AFR systems.  This would, where possible, process the tenprints of a person held in custody by a local police force and confirm identity back to that location within two hours of receipt.  The CMRT reported that in 1999/2000 this was achieved in 95.5% of cases.231 

404. However, this level of service required significant staff resourcing to ensure that it operated within the target timescale.  The CMRT found that the resource commitment to this service in terms of fingerprint officers was such that mark identification demands were not being met and a significant backlog of work built up.232

405. In an interim report, the SFSWG identified that the problems caused by Livescan were significant to the overall structure and management of fingerprint services in Scotland and suggested that minor adjustments to structure would be insufficient.233  As a response, the SFSWG then considered four options for the management of fingerprint services in Scotland—

  • no change;
  • growth at the centre;
  • central control; and
  • devolved control.234

406. In its conclusion, the SFSWG proposed a model of devolved control for the fingerprint service in Scotland, effectively rejecting a centralised single bureau in favour of retaining bureaux aligned to police forces around the country.  In addition, it recommended:

  • development of a system of management information;
  • a move towards parity in terms of pay and conditions across Scotland; and
  • the preparation of an implementation strategy, as the next phase of development, incorporating the re-launch and marketing of a new fingerprint service for Scotland.235

Leishman Management Consulting reviews

407. As a consequence of the conclusions of the SFSWG, an implementation group was formed and in March 1998 Leishman Management Consulting was engaged to assist with the development of an implementation strategy.  The consultancy was carried out in two stages.  Stage 1 examined the existing structure, work practices, staffing levels and grades within the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau and considered the ability of the Bureau to meet the workload requirements.  Stage 2 considered strategic issues related to the SFSWG chosen option of “devolved control” for the fingerprint service in Scotland.

408. However, at the conclusion of the Stage 2 review, the consultants proposed the creation of a new model for fingerprint services in Scotland based upon central management and delivery.  The consultants did say that should such a move be seen as being ‘a step too far’ then, “as a minimum, central management should be introduced (with distributed delivery)”.236

The 8 Force Standard Working Group (8FSG)

409. Following receipt of the Leishman Stage 2 report, the SCRO Controlling Committee agreed that as an initial step in testing the concept of a ‘centralised’ model, force bureaux and the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau should agree standardised practices.  The 8FSG was formed, again chaired by John Hamilton, who agreed to consult police forces, progress policies towards standardisation of procedures and develop protocols to be referred to as the ‘Eight Force Fingerprint Standards’.237

410. The first meeting of the 8FSG took place November 1999.  However, events surrounding the McKie case intervened and although a draft strategy document was prepared, the group was suspended.

411. Following publication of the HMIC’s Primary Inspection Report on the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau in September 2000, the 8FSG was reconvened by Kenny McInnes, the CMRT leader, with a view to it being permanently re-established and leading a renewed drive towards the development of common and agreed standards across fingerprint bureaux in Scotland.238

Structural options for fingerprint services

412. Having considered the SFSWG and consultant’s reports, HMIC recommended that a centralised model for a national fingerprint service be considered by the SCRO Executive Committee.239  In the immediate and short term, HMIC conceded that centralisation with devolved elements was the way forward.240

413. The CMRT gave detailed consideration to the options for reform of fingerprint services in Scotland as presented by the Leishman, SFSWG and HMIC in their respective reports. 

414. The CMRT favoured Leishman’s preferred option which was for central management and central delivery of fingerprint services in Scotland, but recognised the “major challenges and potential risks that it involves”.241 

415. The CMRT identified the significant risk of losing a proportion of the existing fingerprint officers in Scotland (42 at the time of the report) if the service was centralised within SCRO at its new Pacific Quay headquarters and those fingerprint officers from outside of Glasgow could not be persuaded to relocate or travel.  For this reason, the CMRT stated that progress towards this model could only be achieved over a number of years in a phased approach.242

416. The CMRT also acknowledged that there might be reservations about SCRO’s ability to deliver this new structure but it saw no value in separating the functions currently performed by SCRO.  The CMRT expressed support for an idea floated by HMIC243 that the Scottish Fingerprint Service should be part of a new national Identification Service for Scotland which would combine three services; fingerprints, criminal history (records) and vetting.  The CMRT considered that in time it could also become linked with forensic science services to provide one organisation which delivers all physical evidence types as part of a Scottish forensic science strategy.244

417. The Committee notes that the CMRT’s preferred option was for a centralised service albeit that the CMRT recognised that there were risks associated with this option.  The Committee further notes that ultimately this option was not pursued and the Scottish Fingerprint Service was established as a centrally managed service but with delivery through local bureaux in Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh.  This was in line with the short term solution advocated by HMIC.

Leadership and management

418. Prior to change in 1999, oversight management of the SCRO was carried out through the SCRO Controlling Committee.  This committee comprised the chief constables of the eight Scottish forces and representatives from SCRO and the Scottish Executive and was chaired by the chief constable holding office as President of ACPOS.  Oversight of fingerprint services provided by SCRO was carried out by the SCRO Fingerprint Standing Committee. It comprised police chief officers, or deputies at a senior level, from the eight Scottish forces attended along with representatives from SCRO and the Scottish Executive and was chaired by a chief constable.

419. HMIC reported that a review by independent management consultants (see paragraphs 407-408 below) conducted in 1998/99 had reported that both the Head of SCRO and the service provided by SCRO were inhibited by the reporting and decision making process that existed at that time.  That report recommended that the process should be streamlined.  These recommendations were agreed and implemented.

420. Two new committees were established—

(i) An Executive Committee chaired by the President of ACPOS and comprising the eight chief constables, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary and representatives from the Scottish Executive and COSLA; and

(ii) A Management Committee chaired by a senior civil servant from the Scottish Executive and comprising ACPOS representatives from the eight Scottish forces, COSLA and the Director and Deputy Director of SCRO.245

421. HMIC noted that forces had been represented on the Management Committee by their heads of Crime Management Services.  This had been found to be a positive move in so far as it kept these officers informed and up-to-date with current developments, but HMIC questioned the role of this committee in actual "management" terms.  Some members of the committee had also questioned their management function. 246

422. HMIC was of the view that the new SCRO Executive and Management Committee offered “only limited improvement on the former committees in that it remains an unwieldy and top-heavy structure, which inhibits speed of response and fails to focus accountability.”  HMIC recommended that the management oversight structure be reformed as part of re-positioning SCRO within a new Common Police Services arrangement.247 

Senior Management Posts

423. At the time of the HMIC inspection, the most senior management posts within SCRO were held by police officers.  The Director and Deputy Director were both seconded from Strathclyde Police. They held the ranks of chief superintendent and superintendent respectively.  The head of the Fingerprint Bureau was a chief inspector on a three-year secondment to SCRO from Lothian and Borders Police and the Livescan248 manager was an inspector, seconded from Tayside Police. 249

Deputy Head of Fingerprint Bureau

424. The post of deputy head of the fingerprint bureau had been “civilianised” in 1996 it having previously been a post held by a police inspector.  The post was advertised and a senior fingerprint officer within the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau was appointed.  The main functions of this post included deputising for the head of bureau (a chief inspector); assisting in the day to day running of the bureau; having responsibility for the development and co-ordination of quality assurance; training initiatives; and researching and developing new systems and/or amending current procedures.250

Quality Assurance Officer

425. The post of quality assurance officer/training officer was created in 1996.  The position was filled internally by a principal fingerprint officer.  HMIC noted that the quality assurance aspect of the role was quickly taken over by the training aspect.  To address this, another fingerprint officer was appointed to undertake a full-time training role.  While this assisted in meeting training demands, HMIC noted that it did not result in the first officer being released to focus on quality assurance duties.251  At the time of the inspection, HMIC found that about 90% of this officer's time was devoted to training.  In order to address the need for greater commitment to quality assurance matters, a full-time training post had been advertised, but had not been filled at the time of the inspection.252

426. HMIC recommended the separation of the quality assurance and training roles253 and, in light of continuing heavy training demands on the quality assurance officer, HMIC suggested that the issue of the number of training staff be addressed by the ACPOS review team254 (see paragraph 772 below).

CMRT Review of SCRO senior management structure

427. In its review of management structures, the CMRT noted that, traditionally, strategic management of SCRO had been delivered by senior police officers on secondment to the organisation.  The Director and Deputy Director roles had, in the past, been filled by well qualified and experienced officers nearing the end of their service.  Recent post-holders had subsequently retired from post.  The CMRT commented that “the usual appointment period of about three years can act to frustrate the development of the organisation.”255

428. The CMRT expressed the view that the police service should be strongly represented at strategic management level.  However, the CMRT believed that the Head of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau (and ultimately the Head of the Scottish Fingerprint Service) should be a civilian manager who had experience as a fingerprint expert or a forensic scientist.  The CMRT recommended the early appointment of an appropriate individual, with the necessary understanding of fingerprint services, but whose strengths were strongly biased towards management.  The benefit of such an appointment would be the ability to understand and influence the ultimate shape and structure of the service for which he or she would be accountable in the future; thus countering criticisms of transitional management in the past.256

Management turnover

429. The Committee requested from SCRO a series of organisational diagrams showing the management structure of the fingerprint bureau and all changes in key personnel from 1999 to the present day.  These organisational diagrams are provided at Annexe B to this report. 

430. The Committee notes the frequent changes of personnel at the level of the Head of Bureau and above.  For example, in the period 1997 to 2006 the Director of SCRO and Deputy Director have changed on four occasions, while the Head of the Glasgow Bureau has changed three times.

431. The Committee considers that such frequent changes in the management regime must have created a lack of continuity and had an unsettling effect thereby contributing to a lack of confidence among staff in the management of the Bureau.  The Committee strongly questions whether the deployment of senior managers (whether serving police officers, who were either on secondment or close to retirement age, or retired police officers) for short periods of tenure was appropriate in an organisation facing operational difficulties, rapid change and intense scrutiny.  ACPOS and the incoming Scottish Police Services Authority should reflect on this matter in order to ensure that there exists the necessary level of management continuity in future.

432. The Committee also notes the recommendation of the CMRT that the Head of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau should be a civilian manager with experience as a fingerprint expert or a forensic scientist.  The Committee is aware, however, that although the current Head of the Glasgow Fingerprint Bureau/Head of SFS has considerable management experience, he does not have a background in either fingerprint services or forensic science.  The Committee gives further consideration to this matter in the next section of this report.

Human Resources

433. Each of the reviews of fingerprint services in Scotland considered above highlighted that resource constraint in the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau was a serious issue which required concerted action.  The Committee considers below the impact which this resource constraint had on the operation of the Bureau.

Case backlog

434. At the time of the Primary Inspection in 2000, HMIC found that a backlog had accrued in scene-of-crime work requiring analysis by fingerprint officers.  This backlog included 703 cases from 1998 (1 July to 31 December) and 1,957 cases from 18 February 2000.  HMIC found that efforts had been  made to address this but these had been suspended to allow staff to focus on cases from the current year (2000) in an attempt to stop a similar backlog accruing.  At December 1998, the backlog had been 7500 cases.257 

435. Commenting on the SCRO response, former Director Harry Bell suggested that “within a year, with some reorganisation, the assistance of other bureaux and additional financial support, the backlog was dramatically reduced to a level which the Bureau could sustain on the basis of ‘Work in Progress’.”

436. HMIC reported that a number of initiatives had been taken to address the backlog, including—

  • March 1999: SCRO returned 995 cases to forces bureaux for them to conduct searches on the AFR system locally.
  • June 1999: SCRO asked forces for further assistance.  It emerged that these forces were unable to provide assistance at that time.
  • December 1999: Grampian Police, having cleared a backlog previously returned to them from SCRO in respect of their own cases, accepted 57 Northern Constabulary cases.258

437. HMIC also noted that the backlogs had developed over a period when the number of cases received at SCRO had fallen by 11%, including a 7.7% reduction in the number of cases submitted by Strathclyde Police and Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary.259

Staff resources

438. In relation to staff resources, HMIC reported that during 1998/99, the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau had 26 fingerprint officers, which was eight officers short of the figure previously regarded as its 'authorised establishment' figure.  In addition to staff leaving, nine officers were re-deployed on Livescan work.  The SCRO Annual Report for 1998/99 had highlighted that this combined loss resulted in a reduced strength of 55% in respect of officers available to undertake crime scene mark examination.260

439. In the five year period from 1995 – 1999/2000, the number of full-time equivalent fingerprint officers had declined from 36 to 28.5.261  This was, in part, attributed to the salary grading of fingerprint officers at SCRO.  HMIC reported that a regrading of officers was approved in 1999 to prevent “a continuing drain of expertise to other bureaux where experts were receiving higher grading and salaries.”262

Recruitment

440. At the time of the inspection, HMIC found that the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau continued to have difficulty in recruiting staff.  The bureau had vacancies for seven fingerprint officers (six full-time posts and one part-time). Circulation of these vacancies to fingerprint bureaux in the UK, Channel Islands and Eire and advertising in the Police Review had proved unsuccessful.  However, an initiative to place the same advertisements on the Internet had resulted in two fingerprint officers being recruited in January and May 2000.263

441. HMIC found that the finance available to pay the salaries for the unfilled posts was being spent on overtime payments to existing staff.  HMIC commented that this was clearly not the ideal solution to the problem—

“Long hours in a field of work, which demands high levels of concentration and focus, present a risk of tiredness and the potential for mistakes.”264

442. Short-term strategies, including a redefinition of work practices and processes, had resulted in other steps being taken in an effort to maximise the availability of experts for expert work.  However, the HMIC report concluded—

“Despite these measures (and not all are acting in favour of victims and the efficacy of the criminal justice system) the demands continue to outstrip the capacity of the organisation to service them.”265

443. As a response, HMIC recommended that APRT “scope the demands now and into the near future to determine the staff levels required.”266 

444. As part of its consideration of options for restructuring fingerprint services in Scotland, the CMRT identified the extent of the staffing shortages in the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau—

“The fact that the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau has been under intense pressure since 1997 is inescapable.  There is a resourcing issue within the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau which will now require the recruitment of 10 fingerprint experts, 7 fingerprint trainees and 13 Tenprint Identification Officers and bring it to a strength which is likely to enable it to carry out its current responsibilities.”

“Irrespective of any option being selected, this problem must be addressed as a top priority.  Without adequate resources within the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, a full service cannot be provided, backlogs will continue and revised procedures cannot be successfully implemented.  Against a background of intense pressure within a very busy and productive bureau, the risk of misidentification or other error must be greater.  This is an issue of concern to the whole of the Scottish Police Service and the wider community it serves.  The issue of staffing levels within the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau must be addressed without delay.”267

445. The CMRT highlighted various barriers to recruitment and retention of fingerprint experts.  These included competitive market conditions for qualified staff with some bureaux in England and Wales offering ‘market rate enhancement’ to salaries worth around £2000 - £3000 per annum (10% - 15% of top rate salary) extra for an expert.  The CMRT also reported that there was a “general perception of SCRO as an organisation in turmoil, with poor working conditions and an excessive backlog.  It was not viewed as an attractive organisation.”268

446. Nonetheless, the CMRT considered that development of existing staff (principally tenprint identification officers) coupled with a positive approach to recruitment could provide sufficient fingerprint experts.  The CMRT suggested that this would be aided by “an aspiring management philosophy committed to change, progress and achievement of the highest possible quality standards.”269

Sickness absence and staff welfare

447. As part of the inspection process, HMIC considered the management of sickness absence in the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau.  To contextualise the situation at the time of the inspection, HMIC quoted statistics from 1998 when the sickness level was reported to be 5.5 percent of total available working days lost due to sickness.  HMIC reported that this was described by SCRO management at the time as a 'crisis' in staffing terms.270

448. At the time of the inspection, two fingerprint officers were on long term sick leave.  Two other fingerprint officers, although working, had 'soul and conscience reports' excusing them from giving evidence at court due to stress.  Another officer had been removed from scene of crime work due to failing eyesight.271

449. Sickness absence within SCRO was managed in accordance with the sickness absence management policy of Strathclyde Police.  The collation of all information relating to sickness absence within SCRO was undertaken by staff within the personnel department of Strathclyde Police.272 

450. HMIC was informed that, although the chief inspector in charge of the Bureau maintained an awareness of the absence levels prevailing at any given time, the monitoring of trends was not possible.  This was because there was no management information readily available which would highlight such trends.  HMIC believed this to be an unacceptable situation.273

451. While management had offered the view that sickness absence in 2000 had improved since 1998, HMIC found no evidence to support this assertion, indeed it reported that recent figures relating to SCRO as a whole showed a worsening trend.274

452. HMIC recommended that action should be taken to obtain data which would inform management of sickness absence levels in a manner which could be used to monitor trends, set targets and manage sickness absence.275

453. HMIC recommended that a strategy be introduced for staff within all fingerprint bureaux and identification branches to offer staff support and to assist in the detection and prevention of stress related illness resulting in absence from work.276

454. In relation to the monitoring of sickness absence, the CMRT noted that with a slight variation in the way SCRO processed its absence notifications, SCRO had been able to take advantage of facilities provided by Strathclyde Police personnel department, which monitored trends and produced management reports.

455. The CMRT also gave consideration to the issue of stress related illness among staff.  Although the CMRT considered that management was acutely aware of the difficulties, it left it to the 8FSG to give the matter further consideration.

456. The Committee notes the concerns raised by HMIC in 2000 about the rate and management of sickness absence in the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau and support structures for staff more generally.  The failure of the organisation to monitor sickness absence levels in order to manage the situation was a glaring example of management failure at that time.  The Committee considers that the response of the CMRT was worryingly inadequate.

457. In section 4 of this report, the Committee considers the level of sickness absence and the response of management to this issue in recent years.

Training for trainee fingerprint officers

458. Chapter 7 of the HMIC report focused on the training arrangements for the staff of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau.

459. Prior to 1993 SCRO fingerprint staff were all trained "in-house" and did not receive any external training input.  In 1993 the format of SCRO fingerprint training courses was restructured to include two of the courses at the National Training Centre (NTC) for Scientific Support to Criminal Investigation at Durham.  SCRO informed HMIC that the inclusion of these courses was to "augment" the SCRO training and provide an independent assessment of standards.277

460. Between 1993 and 1999 training for SCRO trainee fingerprint officers incorporated several mandatory courses which each trainee was required to complete before attaining expert status.  These were—

Course

Provider

Initial Fingerprint Course (4weeks)

National Training School, Durham

Intermediate Fingerprint Course (3 weeks)

Scottish Criminal Record Office

Intermediate Fingerprint Course (3 weeks)

National Training School, Durham

Advanced Fingerprint Course (3 weeks)

Scottish Criminal Record Office

Expert Fingerprint Course (3 weeks)

Scottish Criminal Record Office

461. HMIC was told that SCRO trainees did not attend the Advanced Course at Durham because SCRO considered it to be too focused on English courts and legislation to be relevant to staff working in Scotland. SCRO was also considering its position in relation to the two courses which its trainees did attend as there was concern that these too had become less relevant to Scottish experts because of the training provided in the English "NAFIS"278 system.  HMIC reported that SCRO considered that the ‘in-house’ training given to its trainees not only met that in the rest of the UK but was enhanced by a more relevant focus on the Scottish criminal justice system and legislation.279

462. HMIC considered that “the continued focus on ‘in-house’ training by fellow staff members at SCRO presents a risk that bad practices may be spread, elitist attitudes reinforced and new ideas stifled.”280 

463. HMIC suggested that a strategic re-assessment of how training was delivered was necessary and that this should be undertaken by the APRT.281

464. In response to the HMIC suggestion, the CMRT reported that the in-house course and teaching at SCRO had not been subject to external validation and scrutiny.  The CMRT stated that, this training had been suspended and SCRO trainees would follow the Durham training centre programme.282

465. The CMRT considered that this approach had a secondary benefit of allowing trainees a greater opportunity to make contact with other trainees at a similar level from both around the UK and abroad.  The CMRT commented that this would broaden the perspective of the trainee and may assist in reducing the perceived ‘introverted’ culture within SCRO.  The CMRT noted that this accorded with the view of HMIC articulated at Suggestion 17 of the 2000 report that networking among staff from other bureaux should be encouraged among all fingerprint staff and contributed to addressing Suggestion 18 that there was a need for a more open and transparent culture within the organisation as a whole.283

466. Following consultation with the CMRT, the Durham training centre agreed to consider tailoring courses for specifically Scottish issues where appropriate.  The CMRT suggested that the 8FSG should assess the correct level and form of training for fingerprint officers in Scotland including what training should take place in-house to supplement the national core courses.284

Refresher training for fingerprint experts

467. HMIC found that little provision was made for refresher training for fingerprint experts.  Given that many of the fingerprint experts throughout Scotland had been in post for many years and received their training in-house and ‘on-the-job’, HMIC considered that there had been opportunity for 'bad habits' to develop and to be reinforced over time.285

468. HMIC found that some experts held the view that once qualified and experienced in the role of expert there was little to be gained by further training.  HMIC did not support this view and recommended that regular refresher training should be incorporated into a national training standard for fingerprint experts to ensure that expertise was maintained at the highest level taking account of developments in theory and technology.  HMIC suggested that the training required for the introduction of a non-numeric standard provided an opportunity to begin such a training programme.286

Mackay inquiry comment

469. While the Mackay inquiry remit did not include consideration of training, in the synopsis of the Mackay report it us commented that “it was apparent that training of various individuals within SCRO could have been less insular and more objective.”287

470. The synopsis of the report also suggested that when SCRO staff attended conferences and seminars, the emerging issues, procedures and findings should be promulgated to the entire staff rather than confined to those attending the seminar.288

CMRT view of training

471. The CMRT stated that it valued the professional competency and expertise found in the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau.  However, it believed that, in keeping with the recommendation made by HMIC289, there was a responsibility on the organisation to provide professional development for its staff and considered that regular refresher training for fingerprint officers should be introduced.290

472. Echoing the finding of HMIC, the CMRT reported that there was a view among fingerprint experts that, once trained, no further ongoing training was necessary and professional skills were developed on the job by examining progressively more complex marks.  The CMRT did not support this view.  The CMRT considered that this attitude was perhaps due to a narrow interpretation of refresher training which the CMRT saw as more appropriately termed ‘continuous professional development’ (CPD).291

473. The CMRT reported that recent training courses arranged by the SCRO Bureau on court presentation skills, ridgeology and the emerging non-numeric standard had been universally welcomed by the staff and had had a beneficial effect on their morale, with staff seeing themselves being valued by the organisation.  The CMRT saw great value in structured, ongoing training of this type being delivered.  It was envisaged that this future training might cover different parts of fingerprint identification including technological advances, developments in recovering latent prints, legislative developments, presentations from other agencies involved in the criminal justice process, and case presentations.  The CMRT also considered there would be value in mutual exchanges being arranged between fingerprint experts and scene-of-crime officers in order to allow both disciplines to have a greater understanding of each others’ needs and contribute to a higher quality of work by both groups.292

474. The CMRT considered that there would be merit in the 8FSG considering the structure and content of CPD for fingerprint experts.

Charting PC

475. Fingerprint bureau staff raised concerns with HMIC about the charting PC system which had been purchased in 1996 at a cost of £30,000.  The intended purpose of this computer was to assist in the preparation of visual aids for presentation of fingerprint evidence in court.  Prior to introduction of the charting PC, SCRO fingerprint officers were required to obtain photographic enlargements of the marks and prints in question from the Identification Bureau of Strathclyde Police.  These would then be "marked up" by the fingerprint officers to show the sixteen characteristics, which were identical in sequence and agreement in both the mark and the fingerprint.  These sixteen identical "points" would then form the basis on which the identification was founded.293

476. HMIC noted that the view among staff was that the quality of the digital image produced by the charting PC was not as sharp as a good photographic enlargement would be.  According to HMIC, fingerprint officers had found themselves being challenged in court on the quality of the images produced in the photograph album.  Lack of detail had led to comments about "pixelling"294 and the fact that some of the numbered red lines which were intended to indicate "points" actually appeared to stop in mid air as the digital image had not replicated the depth of detail existing in the original mark or print.295

477. HMIC found that some fingerprint officers had lost confidence in the charting PC and were reluctant to use it again, preferring to return to the truer image produced in a photographic enlargement. HMIC agreed that staff should be provided with the most accurate representation available to assist them to explain their evidence.  Although use of the charting PC had been suspended, HMIC considered it a matter of importance that those responsible for the prosecution case ensure that the best means of producing the most accurate representations were agreed for future cases.296

478. In evidence to the Mackay inquiry team, Pat Wertheim criticised the use of a digital system rather than traditional photography to produce the charted enlargements.  He stated that the images of mark Y7 produced by SCRO were blurred and indistinct and had been “degraded rather than enhanced” by the use of the digital system.297

479. In the synopsis of the Mackay report it is noted that several SCRO staff members stated that they had been unhappy with the standard of enlargements produced by the charting PC from the outset but continued to use it because they believed the enlargements were simply an illustration for the jury and the actual size photographs and tenprints were “best” evidence.298

480. The Committee is concerned that a piece of equipment which was intended to assist in the production of enlargements for use by fingerprint officers in court was clearly not fit for purpose.  Evidence received by the Committee regarding the quality of court enlargements used during the perjury trial of Shirley McKie suggests that images produced by SCRO officers using the charting PC were of an unacceptable quality.  It was only after a review of court productions in this case that use of the system was suspended.  The Committee questions why management failed to respond more quickly to officers’ concerns about use of this equipment.  This appears to be an example of poor communication between management and staff within the Bureau.

Court presentation skills

481. In relation to training for the presentation of fingerprint evidence, HMIC found that some fingerprint officers had never given evidence in court.  HMIC commented that this could be for a number of reasons such as, the acceptance of expert evidence prior to trial by way of minute of agreement, the introduction of interim diets and the longstanding perception of the irrefutable nature of fingerprint evidence.  In cases where fingerprint officers did give evidence, HMIC noted that they were seldom cross-examined.299 

482. HMIC found that SCRO staff acknowledged that there was room for improvement in their presentation skills and some positive steps had been taken.  Shortly after the McKie case, the deputy head of the Bureau had visited the FBI academy in the United States to examine training in respect of presentation skills.  SCRO staff subsequently received a one-day training course in March 2000 from independent training consultants.  HMIC stated that this had been well received by staff.

483. As discussed in section 2 of this report, the Mackay inquiry also considered the implications of the McKie case for training of fingerprint officers in presentation of evidence in court.  Although the Mackay synopsis reported that an advocate who was involved in the McKie perjury trial suggested that the SCRO fingerprint officers believed in the accuracy of what they were describing in relation to their 16 point identification, that advocate suggested that the officers had “had difficulty in explaining their positions in relation to the distorted part of mark Y7”. Another advocate recalled the SCRO fingerprint officers’ evidence as “sound and convincing” but felt that “their presentation could have been better”.  Evidence to Mackay inquiry from another advocate suggested that while there was “no obvious sign of collusion or corruption” in the manner in which the SCRO fingerprint officers gave their evidence he voiced concerns that the fingerprint officers had displayed an “arrogant manner” when giving evidence.300

484. This report of events at the McKie trial and the statements made by the advocates to the Mackay inquiry could appear to be at odds with evidence submitted to the Committee’s inquiry by the SCRO fingerprint officers and the former SCRO Director Harry Bell.  They suggested that at a meeting with the Advocate Depute following the conclusion of the perjury trial, the Advocate Depute made no criticism of the evidence given by SCRO fingerprint officers.  In Mr Bell’s written submission, he stated—

“It was clear that the Crown were satisfied with the fingerprint evidence of the SCRO experts and indeed their credibility and the integrity of experts at the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau.”301

485. Having also considered court transcripts from trials involving SCRO fingerprint officers, Mackay proposed that training be provided to enhance their presentation skills.  Mackay commented that when faced with challenges to their evidence, fingerprint officers simply made reference to the fact that they were ‘experts’ and did not give sufficient reason for the action taken, the sequence of events in which they reached their ultimate decision or why they took a particular route in arriving at that decision.302  The Mackay report synopsis contains the following conclusion—

“The standard of court evidence provided by SCRO fingerprint experts is sadly lacking in professionalism and borders on an arrogance that the witness is an expert and not subject to the rigours of robust cross-examination.  The laissez faire attitude has been compounded over a number of years by the defence being devoid of expertise with the ability to challenge.  Having regard to this, there has developed a complacency and empirical approach earlier in the chain of events and one clearly detects an entrenched institutionalised philosophy compounded by an insular attitude towards the professional sphere of fingerprints.”303

486. The CMRT commented that court presentation skills, including detailed questioning on the theory and science behind fingerprint examination, form a major part of the national training course, with students undergoing a series of mock trials with the aim of both setting standards and giving the individual confidence in his/her own abilities.  Echoing the finding of HMIC, the CMRT reported that the recent training initiative had been rated by staff as an extremely valuable exercise.304

487. In view of the fact that court presentation was considered to be a key part of a fingerprint expert’s role, the CMRT considered that such training should be progressed by the 8FSG.  The Crown Office had also indicated that they would be willing to comment on any proposals designed to bring both consistency, quality and best practice to the presentation of fingerprint evidence in court.  The CMRT reported that at an early meeting of the 8FSG there was clear support for the standardisation of processes, procedures and training and for a training forum to progress matters.305

488. On a related issue, the CMRT commented on the practice which enabled one expert to complete the initial identification/verification process and another expert to give evidence in court.  In SCRO, this occurred in a situation where two fingerprint officers could not attend court on medical grounds, but also on other occasions as a matter of convenience. In these cases other fingerprint officers who had not previously been involved in the case would be asked to examine the marks, confirm they agreed with the identification, prepare the necessary statements and attend court when required.  The CMRT did not consider this to be good practice—

“The fingerprint expert’s role includes the preparation of evidence for court and the giving of that evidence.  As such, it is considered that fingerprint experts should follow a case from identification to trial and only in extreme situations should another expert re-examine and substitute in court for the initial identifier.  This maintains the identifying experts accountability for the case.”306

489. The findings of HMIC and the CMRT, along with the comments of James Mackay, strongly suggest to the Committee that the general standard of court presentation displayed by SCRO fingerprint officers had been lacking.  The Committee notes that HMIC found that SCRO staff acknowledged that there was room for improvement in their presentation skills.  The Committee also notes that officers’ ability to present their findings in court may have been hampered by the poor quality of the enlarged images produced using the charting PC.

490. The Committee considers that poor court presentation skills were principally the result of inadequate training for and limited experience of officers facing cross-examination, in particular, hostile questioning.  The Committee considers current court presentation skills training in section 4 of this report.

Procedures

SCRO Fingerprint Bureau identification processes

491. As a key part of the inquiry, the Committee has striven to develop an understanding of the fingerprint identification and verification process within the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau.  As a first step, the Committee was interested to know whether any guidance manual, setting down written procedures for the operation of the SCRO bureau existed in 1997. 

Written procedures and guidance in 1997

492. In a written submission, following his appearance before the Committee, John McLean, then Director of SCRO, advised that “there were no formal written procedures in 1997 for processes within the bureaux which now make up the Scottish Fingerprint Service.”307

493. In an associated submission, Ewan Innes, the current Head of the Scottish Fingerprint Service provided additional information—

“It has not been possible to establish definitively the identification processes that were being operated by the separate force fingerprint bureaux and the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau in 1997.  This is due to an apparent lack of written procedures at that time.

Nonetheless, the Change Management Review Team (CMRT) Report of October 2000 has looked at this issue and appears to be a reliable reference for that point in time and for 1997.  It would appear that the only significant change between the description of the process in 2000 and that which was extant in 1997 is the fact that the practice in 1997 was for an identification expert to be followed by 3 expert verifiers and by 2000 this had been reduced to the identifying expert and 2 expert verifiers.  This was in line with the operating practices of other fingerprint bureaux in the UK.”308

494. In written evidence to the Committee, William O’Neill, former chief inspector in charge of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, stated that he could not remember whether or not there were written down procedures in terms of identification and subsequent verification of crime scene marks.  His submission continued—

“As far as I am aware the procedures in vogue in the office at that time were established over many years in accordance with best practice and the demands of the Crown Office.”309

495. In oral evidence to the Committee, Alan Dunbar, Quality Assurance Officer for the SCRO bureau since 1996, contradicted the information provided by Mr McLean and Mr Innes.  He stated that there had indeed been written procedures in 1997.  He referred to “audits, practices and procedures and local work instructions.  They were all there; they just needed to be formalised as they are now.”310

496. When asked to provide examples of the material he had referred to, Mr Dunbar informed the Committee that this was not possible as when the Bureau progressed to International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) accreditation in 2000, he personally ensured that all paper instructions and procedural memoranda were withdrawn.  He assured the Committee that it was not the case that paperwork did not exist in 1997, but it did not exist any longer.  He explained—

“The only thing that survives electronically is the procedures from 2000 and perhaps the odd memorandum stashed away in an unused file that someone has not shredded.”311

497. The Committee is concerned at the contradictory evidence it has received in relation to the existence of written procedures in 1997.  Although ten years have passed and SCRO is not obliged to retain documents which have been superseded during that period, the Committee is surprised that no evidence of documented procedures from that time could be provided.  In the absence of any such material, the Committee can make no further comment on written procedures in 1997.

SCRO fingerprint procedures and guidance in 2000

498. Chapter 5 of the HMIC report set out in considerable detail the processes employed in the Bureau in 2000.  The Committee regards the findings and recommendations of HMIC on these matters to be of particular importance as they provide a baseline by which to measure subsequent change.

Office Management System

499. HMIC was critical of the Office Management System used to track the progress of cases through the Bureau at that time.  The report noted that the system was recognised by staff as not providing an adequate audit trail to follow the progress of a case through the department to identify the stage each case was at or to provide accurate details of the time the case had spent in the department.312  HMIC commented further on this finding and repeated a recommendation made previously by consultants—

“It is essential to monitor the progress of work to ensure that it is dealt with effectively and in a speedy manner.  Similarly it is equally important that all cases have a proper audit trail.  The recording of all this information only on the case envelopes, which are subject to regular handling, which may damage them, and which may be lost or open to allegations of being subsequently amended, is not the best solution.  HMIC repeats the recommendation made by consultants in June 1999, that an improved automated system of case tracking should be introduced as part of a new office management system at SCRO.”

Use of case envelopes

500. HMIC considered the administrative process by which case material was processed through the Bureau.  Crime scene marks and associated case material were put into a customised A5 envelope-brown for normal cases and white for special cases.  The reference number, force concerned, the locus and the date received were entered on the front of the case envelope. This envelope also had spaces or 'tick boxes' for further information, including:

  • Type of identification,
  • Identification number, name of person identified, reference number, mark(s) identified and finger/palm identified,
  • Who made the identification and when,
  • Use of the comparator,
  • Which marks are to be used at court,
  • Who checked the identification,
  • Who was notified of the identification by telephone and when,
  • Details of the marks which are insufficient, eliminated or outstanding.

501. HMIC considered that the use of case envelopes had process implications—

“As the envelope is passed from expert to expert for verification of an identification, it shows the receiving expert details of previous examinations.  Such details include who has previously examined the case, which marks have been identified, to which finger on the Tenprint Form they apparently relate and who the identified person is.  If the receiving expert is junior to the previous expert(s) potential exists for pressure, conscious or otherwise, on the junior expert to confirm the identification.  This is not conducive to allowing the receiving expert to make a truly independent assessment of the mark against the fingerprint in question. Fingerprint experts should be able to express their opinions freely without fear of criticism and regardless of the implications. The present system of checking does not allow that.  It is good practice that the checking process should always take place in an 'upwards direction' in terms of the seniority of the checkers.”313

Diary sheets

502. HMIC noted that the fingerprint bureau had recently introduced diary sheets in which fingerprint officers recorded all their work in each case, including telephone calls and memos relating to it.  These entries were all dated.  HMIC considered this to be good practice and suggested it be developed.

503. HMIC considered that the introduction of a better Office Management System, as previously recommended, along with the diary sheets, reduced the opportunity for potentially contaminating influences referred to above. HMIC also suggested that if all work between fingerprint officers was recorded on diary sheets rather than the case envelopes and routed through the office administrator, the work could be logged and properly monitored and fingerprint officers would be unaware of who had previously seen the cases, and the results.  Although this would involve more work for the officers, it was argued that this would increase the independence and credibility of their opinions.314

The process of fingerprint identification

504. HMIC set out in some detail the process by which, at the time of the inspection, SCRO fingerprint officers carried out the examination, identification and verification of marks.  The Committee has considered the key findings.  These are set out below.  In addition, a guide to the identification process is set out on pages 36 to 40 of this report.

Identification

505. When an identification was made, the fingerprint officer recorded, on the photograph of the mark, the digit identified along with their initials.  On the case envelope the fingerprint officer recorded the marks identified against each suspect, the marks which were deemed to be of insufficient detail/quality, the marks eliminated and those which remained outstanding along with any other relevant information.  The fingerprint officer also signed and dated the envelope.  SCRO Form 13B, which was used to inform the reporting officer of the result, was also completed at this stage but was not sent out.  The envelope containing all of the case material was then passed on for verification. 315

Verification

506. Until February 1999, the procedure was that an identification made by one fingerprint officer required to be checked by three other officers.  Since February 1999, identifications had been made by one officer and then checked by two others. Consideration was given to the number of fingerprint officers required to confirm identification of a scene of crime mark.  It had been decided, in terms of best value and efficiency, to reduce the number of officers required from four to three.  HMIC also noted—

  • Where a trainee fingerprint officer made the identification it must be checked by three fingerprint officers.
  • In serious cases one other expert confirmed elimination identifications, whereas in other cases no confirmation was required.316

507. HMIC found these procedures to be in line with the procedures adopted within other fingerprint bureaux in the UK.  HMIC supported this approach provided that the checks and balances offered by quality assured processes and competency testing were in place.317

508. HMIC reported that having confirmed the identification, the expert also signed the photograph and the case envelope before passing it to the next expert, where required.  Once the identification had been checked by the required number of officers, it was returned to the original officer who made the identification, whose responsibility it was to enter details of the identification in the Register of Identifications and to put the entry number on the case envelope.318

509. Later in its report, HMIC recommended a change to the working practices of the bureau.  As documentation accompanying cases identified the fingerprint officers who had examined the case and their findings, those verifying an identification would know which fingerprint officers had examined the case previously and what their conclusions were.  HMIC considered that it might be inferred that a junior or less experienced fingerprint officer might be influenced by the information that two more senior colleagues had already identified a mark as having been made by a particular individual.  HMIC recommended that practices be reviewed with a view to introducing a system that increased the independence within the identification/verification process.319

Review of the identification process – CMRT proposals

510. In response to HMIC’s recommendation, the CMRT gave detailed consideration to the process by which fingerprints were identified within the Bureau.  In order to ensure that fingerprint officers approached the identification process in as independent a manner as possible, and in order to maintain the integrity of the process, the CMRT proposed that those undertaking the verification role should not know the identity of who carried out either the initial identification or any previous verification.  It was recognised that members of a team working in close proximity may find it difficult to achieve complete anonymity, but the CMRT considered that the necessity for experts to come to their own conclusions without any influence, conscious or unconscious, was of paramount importance to the transparency of the process.320

511. The CMRT suggested that the independence of identifying and verifying officers could be achieved by—

  • Using a small team to undertake all verifications.  This team would not be part of the identifying teams and would maintain a degree of autonomy from them.  Those verifying would be senior staff with a wide breadth of experience and credibility and within a large bureau could have a regular change of membership.  Small bureaux may achieve this degree of independence in the verification process by having their most senior expert conducting all second verifications.
  • Using an Administrative Assistant at a central point for distributing cases for identification and verification.  After identification all documentation bearing signatures or initials would be retained before the mark was passed for verification.  This would include passing other photographed marks that had not been marked.
  • Identifying and verifying officers should make notes on separate diary pages which could be held at a central point after each stage until the end of the identification process.321

512. Although the CMRT considered it possible to ensure that those undertaking the verification role were unaware of the identity of the person who conducted the identification, it did not consider it practical to keep the result of the identification from the verifiers.  To do so would mean that verifiers had to embark on the entire identification process, which might add considerable time and effort to the procedure.  The CMRT considered it essential, however, that those verifying made their own determinations and viewed the process as one of independent scrutiny and not merely confirmation.  In structural terms, the CMRT believed that this process would lend itself to a larger bureau where there was the greatest opportunity to pass cases among a pool of experts.322

513. In relation to elimination prints, the CMRT did not suggest that that they should be subjected to the process outlined above unless there was an element of doubt due to the quality of the mark being examined.  The CMRT suggested that the Eight Force Standard Group (8FSG) rationalise practices in bureaux, maintaining accuracy and integrity at the forefront of its considerations.323

514. The Committee notes that in 2000, HMIC was satisfied that the reduced number of fingerprint officers required to verify an identification in Glasgow was consistent with other UK bureaux. 

515. The Committee is concerned that elimination identifications appear to have required a significantly lower degree of verification and, potentially, a lower standard of identification.  This is considered in greater detail below.

Elimination process

516. HMIC found that in Scotland elimination prints were still taken as a matter of routine from persons with legitimate access to a crime scene in order to determine whether marks discovered at the scene have been made by these individuals.  HMIC noted that it was not unusual for a police officer’s fingerprints to be found at the scene of a crime that he or she had attended in the course of their duty.324

517. At section 5.15.4 of its report, HMIC stated, “the need for accuracy in the examination of elimination prints is self-evidently important too. For example, the misidentification of an elimination print, where a crime scene mark made by the offender is wrongly identified as the householder's, negates any later opportunity for it to be matched with the offender.”  HMIC noted that the practice in SCRO was in line with the checking of eliminations in most other bureaux but that eliminations needed to be included as part of the quality assurance process and subject to dip-sampling or other audit.  HMIC made no further specific recommendation or suggestion on this point.

518. The Mackay inquiry report synopsis made reference to statements provided by Robert Mackenzie and to documentary evidence provided to that inquiry which suggested that a lower standard of verification was required for elimination prints—

“In the case of a serious crime elimination, the mark is examined by two experts who must independently agree the comparison.  In 1997, the experts who made the elimination would record their findings on the back of the photograph and would notify the Inquiry Team by telephone.  They would also update the copy log, i.e. on Crimescene Marks Worksheet that the mark had been eliminated.”325

519. The Committee explored with Joanne Tierney, the current SFS Training Manager, her understanding of the process.  She explained that four fingerprint officers were required if the evidence was to be presented in court.  In relation to eliminations, she stated—

“I was not employed at SCRO at the time but, as I understand it, as with the comparison process, elimination prints that were found at a serious crime scene would have been second-checked by another expert.  326

520. The Mackay inquiry also found some variation amongst SCRO fingerprint officers interviewed in respect of what identification standard was applied to elimination fingerprints.  The synopsis of the Mackay report states that “the number of points required to satisfy some experts fell short of the 16 required for a full identification and in some instances this could be as low as 10.”327

521. Opinions presented to Mackay also suggested that an elimination could be made if “there is sufficient detail or information available to conclude that the supplied impressions could not belong to any other person”.  Other experts expressed the view to Mackay that the standard for elimination prints may be significantly lower than 10 points.328

522. In their original report on mark Y7 prepared for HMIC, Rudrud and Zeelenberg suggested that one aspect “that could have contributed to the error [which] occurred” in identifying mark Y7 may have been due to the fact that the print started as an elimination.  The report stated—

“It is good practice to separate elimination from identification and only identify elimination prints on special request via the normal procedure….. A clear separation of the two processes upholds significance and the quality of the identification process because it is not corrupted by a second class kind of identification”.329

523. The Committee spent considerable time during the course of the oral evidence sessions trying to ascertain from witnesses whether different standards of identification were applied by fingerprint experts to elimination prints as opposed to prints from potential suspects.  John MacLeod suggested that “with elimination prints there is always a tendency to be not as thorough as you might be”.330

524. However, SCRO officer Alastair Geddes, told the Committee that “the fact that anyone's print is an elimination print makes no difference to my analysis of the mark or to my comparison of it with the other production.”331

525. In light of the controversy surrounding mark Y7, which was identified as part of an elimination process, the Committee is concerned that HMIC did not consider this matter more closely.  HMIC’s Primary Inspection report of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau in 2000 contained no specific recommendation or suggestion regarding verification of elimination identifications.  The Committee returns to this issue in the next section of this report.

Procedures for dealing with disputed identifications, mistakes and misidentifications

526. HMIC provided an outline of the process which would be implemented within the SCRO bureau if there was disagreement over an identification.  If the second or third checker did not agree with an identification they would discuss it with one another and the first expert may show them the points he or she found.  If they continued to disagree, the matter would be referred to the quality assurance officer who would report the matter to the chief inspector.  The case would then be put to two further experts for their opinion.  If agreement was not reached then it would be recorded as a mark which could not be identified.332

527. HMIC also commented that if an expert was of the opinion that an identification was a misidentification then it would be immediately referred to the quality assurance officer, the chief inspector and the deputy head of the bureau and also reported to the head of the bureau.  The matter would be discussed and a resolution sought.  The deputy head would counsel the individual, and this would be recorded in their personal file.  Should the mistake be considered serious enough or more than one mistake is made, then formal action would be considered under the discipline code.  This latter action had never been taken by SCRO.333

528. HMIC was informed that misidentifications were rare and that management was aware of them.  However, these disputes were not recorded at a central point.  HMIC was given to understand that SCRO management were aware of the need for this process to be documented and formalised in a policy.  It was intended that this would be done as part of the process of achieving ISO 9002 accreditation (discussed at paragraphs 565-574 below).

529. Importantly, HMIC acknowledged that there existed the potential for disagreement between experts—

“Disagreements between experts are always a possibility in an area of opinion rather than fact.  To deny the existence of occasional contrary opinions is more likely to damage the credibility of fingerprint evidence than to accept that disagreements do occur.  Provided that the bases for these opinions are explored to determine the reasons behind them and, if appropriate, training needs identified and met or processes amended and change recorded, then credibility can be maintained.

The resolution of erroneous and disputed fingerprint identifications is a key part of the credibility of fingerprinting. It is also an issue which is not confined to SCRO but applies to all fingerprint bureaux.  To keep the process within a bureau does not promote the principles of objectivity and transparency required for credibility.”334

530. HMIC recommended the establishment of a national policy which encapsulated an independent review process to deal with all erroneous and disputed fingerprint identifications.335

Disputed identifications - CMRT proposals

531. With regard to disputes between experts, the CMRT suggested that any dispute should be discussed between the parties and fully recorded.  If a resolution was achieved, this should be noted along with the full details of the reasons for the original dispute and how it was resolved.336

532. However, if no resolution was achieved, or if the original dispute was of considerable significance, the CMRT recommended that the matter should be referred to the Quality Assurance Officer in the first place and thereafter to the Head of Bureau.  The CMRT recommended as good practice that the Quality Assurance Officer should retain a log of such disputes to allow scrutiny of the cases by any auditors.337

533. The CMRT did not consider it acceptable practice for an expert to be disregarded if he or she disagreed with the opinion of a colleague.  In such circumstances, the CMRT considered that the mark should not be shown around a bureau in order to achieve identification by three experts.  If after a discussion, an expert did not make an identification, the CMRT considered that it should not be taken any further.338

534. The CMRT also recommended that in cases where a dispute is resolved, full details should be recorded and that the Procurator Fiscal should be informed of the nature of the dispute and allowed access to the diary pages or any other relevant documentation if desired.  It was argued that this would give an additional independent element in the process and ensure integrity was maintained.339

Erroneous identifications – CMRT proposals

535. The CMRT considered that the essential element in dealing with erroneous identifications (or misidentifications) was transparency.  The CMRT proposed the introduction of a procedure which would deal with mistakes in a rigorous fashion which could withstand external scrutiny.340

536. The CMRT suggested that an erroneous identification should be fully documented on a diary page (or on the enhanced Office Management System) before being taken to the Quality Assurance Officer, or other senior fingerprint officer, who should immediately bring it to the attention of the Head of Bureau.341

537. The CMRT’s view was that an internal review would follow to determine the cause of the erroneous identification, although the CMRT suggested that consideration should be given, where the situation dictated, to the use of external fingerprint experts for this purpose.342

538. The person who made the erroneous identification would be suspended from making further identifications until the cause of the error was established.  If the matter was satisfactorily resolved through training, or other means, the officer could be permitted to conduct identifications again under close monitoring for a period to be determined by management.  Full details would be entered in the individual’s personal file and details of the erroneous identification and subsequent review would be entered on a log that allowed full scrutiny by external auditors.343

539. The Committee notes the recommendation made by HMIC that there should be a national policy for dealing with erroneous and disputed fingerprints and the proposals made by the CMRT.  The Committee considers this matter further in the next section of this report.

540. The Committee is concerned that there was no central record of misidentifications or disputed identifications within the SCRO Bureau in 2000.344

The non-numeric standard

541. Since the 1950s, in the United Kingdom, evidence of identity for court purposes required that a fingerprint expert be able to report a minimum of 16 characteristics in a mark in order to express the opinion that it had been made by a particular person. 

542. HMIC stated that under the 16 point standard, the aim was to find 16 points or characteristics of friction ridge skin detail on a crime scene mark that were identical in sequence and agreement with a fingerprint given by a donor.345

543. HMIC noted that the practice in other countries varied from no specific number required to a fixed number which is usually lower than 16.346

544. HMIC reported that a number of jurisdictions had moved away from a "numeric standard" and relied upon the expert explaining why he or she believed a mark to have been made by a particular person.  This latter approach is commonly known as operating a "non-numeric standard".347

545. HMIC considered that the move to a non-numeric standard and the work which had been done by the 8FSG could be enhanced by the production of a National Guidance Manual on Fingerprint Standards and Procedures and recommended that such a manual be issued to all fingerprint staff.348

546. Fingerprint bureaux in England and Wales had planned to introduce the non-numeric standard on 3 April 2000 but this had been delayed and was due to take place in October 2000.

547. HMIC noted that there was some confusion about the introduction of a non-numeric standard not only amongst fingerprint experts but also in the wider Scottish criminal justice system.  HMIC considered that the impact of a move to a non-numeric standard on fingerprint evidence would be substantial and wide ranging.  If such a move were to retain the credibility of fingerprint evidence then all concerned would have to be aware of its meaning and impact.  The HMIC reported that, “This was not the case at the time.”349

548. HMIC considered that a change of this magnitude required a dedicated project approach which included managing the interests of all parts of the criminal justice system.  HMIC recommended that managing the change to a non-numeric standard needed to be addressed at a very early point by the APRT.350

549. Commenting on preparations for the change to a non-numeric standard in England and Wales, the CMRT noted that a project board had been established in December 1996 to manage the process.  The extent of preparation required had meant that the implementation date had been delayed from April 2000, originally to October 2000, and then to early in 2001.351

550. Scotland had been represented on the Project Board in England and Wales as it was anticipated that Scotland would follow England and Wales in the transition to the non-numeric standard.  The early work of the 8FSG at the end of 1999 had included consideration of the move to the non-numeric standard and formed a sub-group to progress the issue.  However, further work had been halted due to the events surrounding the inspection of SCRO Fingerprint Bureau.352

551. The CMRT reported that discussion had taken place with Crown Office representatives at the Standing Committee on Expert Evidence and subsequently Draft Lord Advocate’s Guidelines on Fingerprint Evidence were produced in September 1999.  The Draft Guidelines indicated a willingness to review the situation at that time and moving towards a non-numeric standard cautioning that the transition must be accompanied by an appropriate training programme and required standards of competence, auditing and quality assurance.353

552. The CMRT recommended that a project board, similar to the model employed in England and Wales, be set up to manage the change. It suggested that ACPOS Crime Standing Committee monitor the work of the Project Board during the transition.354

553. In its conclusion on the transition to a non-numeric standard, the CMRT reflected the current state of readiness in Scotland—

“It is apparent from the English and Welsh experience that the transition will take some time, but some work has already been undertaken and considerable knowledge and experience of the main issues already exist in the Scottish fingerprint service.”

“The work of the Project Board will be vital to the advancement of the fingerprint service in Scotland and must be underpinned by the ethos that departure from the 16 point standard to a non-numeric standard must in no way compromise the confidence which has existed for a considerable time in fingerprint evidence.”355

554. However, HMIC noted that the same comprehensive project process had not been applied here although force bureaux had met to discuss the standardisation of processes throughout Scotland under the auspices of the 8FSG.356  This group of senior fingerprint officers from all Scottish bureaux was tasked with discussing national issues affecting fingerprint services in Scotland including the move to the non-numeric standard, standardisation of procedures and training.  It met for the first time in November 1998 but was suspended following its second meeting in December 1999 in light of the outcome of the McKie perjury trail and impending HMIC inspection of the SCRO bureau.357

Quality assurance

555. As noted earlier in this report, at the time of the inspection, HMIC found that 90% of the quality assurance officer’s time was still being spent on training duties.  HMIC had recommended the separation of the quality assurance and training officer roles.

556. HMIC also expressed concern that one of the measures taken to increase expert availability for scene-of-crime work was to reduce the number of quality assurance checks being carried out.  The report stated—

 “As part of the work required to re-establish the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, a renewed focus and importance requires to be placed on the quality assurance process.”358

557. In considering the steps required to secure an appropriate quality assurance regime for the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, HMIC considered elements already in place (e.g. competency testing) or planned (e.g. introduction of ISO 9002 standard).  HMIC also made suggestions regarding the use of blind trials and benchmarking.

Competency Testing

558. SCRO senior management informed HMIC that the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau was the first to pilot competency testing of fingerprint officers and HMIC acknowledged the importance of this step.  At the time of the inspection, the tests applied were prepared and marked internally.

559. In oral evidence, Robert Mackenzie confirmed that it was he who had developed the competency test in 1995.359

560. The 'internal' SCRO competency test (referred to at SCRO as a proficiency test) had been submitted to the FBI for independent assessment.  A critique of the test was provided by the FBI, which included a comment that as a test to measure competency, it was considered to be too stringent.360

561. Management was aware of the view that such testing benefits from independent administration.  An approach was made by SCRO to the US company Collaborative Testing Services Inc, described by SCRO as the only independently administered testing service available.  The intention was for the head of the bureau and the quality assurance officer to undertake that test, as these post holders are the two senior fingerprint officers who administer the competency testing conducted within SCRO.  Difficulties were encountered however as that test is only released at a given date and the SCRO request missed the date in question.  HMIC was told that SCRO would apply for it again at the end of 2000.

562. HMIC recommended that this was an aspect that the ACPOS review team needed to pursue with vigour to seek an early, sustainable and defensible programme.  The CMRT response is considered below.

563. In response to the HMIC recommendation that all fingerprint officers within the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau should undergo competency testing provided and managed by an external provider as soon as possible361, SCRO suspended the use of its internally based proficiency test.  The CMRT considered what other options existed and found that the only alternative was a service provided by the US company, CTS, as also identified by SCRO .  The CMRT reported that Tayside Police had used the service and other force bureaux in Scotland had also expressed a significant interest.362

564. An application had been made to CTS to test all fingerprint officers at SCRO during the next administration of the test in January 2000, at a cost in the region of £5000.  The CMRT considered this to be a positive step by the management of SCRO.  The CMRT suggested that the test should be administered annually, pending the development of a fuller competency test by the Council for the Registration of Forensic Practitioners (CRFP).  The CMRT also suggested that other Scottish bureaux should consider using the test in conjunction with a protocol for dealing with non-conformance by officers during testing.  This was being developed by the 8FSG.363

ISO 9002

565. ISO 9002 is a worldwide standard for Quality Assurance systems.  It requires organisations to conform to documented systems of quality assurance.  External audits are carried out to ensure the organisation is complying with its own standards.  Certification of ISO 9002 compliance requires an organisation to prepare a written policy statement on quality assurance, write a quality manual on its own systems and procedures and make available all documents and controls as required.364

566. HMIC considered that in order to maintain the confidence of both the criminal justice system and the public in the Quality Assurance processes in SCRO “the achievement of ISO 9002 is an important step.  It demonstrates the willingness of SCRO to allow independent external examiners to audit their Quality Assurance processes.”365

567. HMIC commented that in the move to a non-numeric standard it would be essential to have Quality Assurance processes and procedures in place.  This would include a quality procedure manual with internal and external audit systems.  HMIC fully supported SCRO in this move towards ISO 9002 accreditation and noted that other bureaux were also considering the use of ISO 9002 for validation of their quality processes.366

568. HMIC suggested that all Scottish bureaux should agree common Quality Assurance processes using the co-ordinating influence of the Council for the Registration of Forensic Practitioners (CRFP).  In doing so, HMIC considered that “good practice may be promulgated and the time and effort in production of a quality manual reduced.”367

569. In response to the HMIC’s findings, the CMRT examined the quality assurance systems of the SCRO bureau and elsewhere in Scotland and found significant variations in standards.368

570. The CMRT discussed with the CRFP the suggestion that it might co-ordinate a move toward common processes but it was told that this was outwith the scope of the CRFP and not something they would wish to develop at that stage.369

571. The CMRT considered that as consideration of the move towards a non-numeric standard continued in Scotland it was essential that preparatory work be undertaken to ensure that processes and procedures were adequate, provided safeguards for staff were sufficiently well tested to withstand close scrutiny.  The CMRT suggested that ISO 9002 offered fingerprint bureaux the opportunity to establish a defensible platform for progression towards a non-numeric standard.  The CMRT noted that some 14 forces in England had already adopted ISO 9002 in preparation for the introduction of a non-numeric standard.370

572. To assist it in developing an ISO 9002 system, SCRO had enlisted the services of a quality assurance consultancy.  The CMRT reported that once fully adopted, the Quality Assurance Officer would be responsible for the co-ordination and administration of the ISO process, including internal audits, follow up procedures and maintenance of the manuals.371

573. In order to provide a defensible and sustainable position, the CMRT considered it essential that the job description and person specification of the Quality Assurance post be reviewed as soon as possible, in order to define clearly the importance and priorities of that role.  The CMRT proposed that this should coincide with the introduction of the new Training Officer post.372

574. The Committee gives further consideration to the development of quality assurance systems within the Scottish Fingerprint Service in the next part of the report.

Blind testing

575. As discussed in relation to mark Y7, the Committee understands that true blind testing consists of a case being submitted to a bureau as if it were genuine for the purpose of testing the procedures applied and the quality and accuracy of the processes involved.  HMIC noted that SCRO had never employed this method of quality assurance and HMIC suggested that it was another tool that was worthy of consideration.373

576. The CMRT considered the HMIC suggestion.  While the practice was understood to have been introduced on a limited scale within some forensic science services, the CMRT found little evidence of its application within fingerprint bureaux.  The CMRT reported that the issue was consistently raised during its period of consultation but had been met with general reserve.  One force bureau had, however, experimented and saw a potential place for blind testing within the fingerprint service, if managed carefully.374

577. The CMRT reported that the reservations of others centred on the complexity and control of the tests.  In particular, the need to create ‘false’ computer and case records on the Criminal History System, potentially the Police National Computer and local force computers and, consequently, the proper management and control of that information were of concern to them.375

578. The CMRT considered that while the concept had merit, it needed to be more fully considered in terms of the renewed emphasis which is being placed on openness and accountability within SCRO.  The CMRT suggested further research was necessary to consider the fuller implications and scope the level of effort required to manage safely a programme of blind testing and it would be appropriate for the 8FSG to consider the issue in due course, as part of its wider remit.376

Benchmarking

579. During the pre-inspection stage of the inspection, HMIC encountered difficulty in obtaining statistical information to inform the inspection and to determine whether any progress had been made towards the development of a common Scotland-wide model of management information.

580. HMIC found that there were still differences in the way that force bureaux record information to the extent that comparison between forces is not always possible.377

581. HMIC was of the opinion that, regardless of the future structure of the fingerprint service in Scotland, it was, “essential that agreed, common statistical performance information should be collected by bureaux so that valid comparisons can be made.”378

582. In addition, HMIC saw benefit in consulting fingerprint bureaux outside Scotland on this matter, in order that the most suitable benchmarking partners may be identified.  This would allow both SCRO and force fingerprint bureaux to assess their performance on a larger scale, in a more meaningful way and with more accuracy.  To this end, HMIC suggested that the ACPOS Presidential Review Team give this issue early attention.379

583. The CMRT reported that there had been agreement by the 8FSG at the end of 1999 that there was a need to rationalise statistical gathering, but this had not yet occurred.380

584. As a basis for benchmarking, the CMRT had obtained details of the comprehensive range of performance indicators collected quarterly in England and Wales.  The CMRT recommended that the 8FSG should continue work on the development of statistical information and performance indicators to allow ACPOS Crime Standing Committee to determine an appropriate approach enabling collection of this information from April 2001.381

Subsequent HMIC Inspections of SCRO

585. The Committee now turns its attention to the reports of subsequent formal HMIC inspections of SCRO which reviewed progress within the fingerprint bureau as part of more wide ranging inspections of SCRO as a whole.  The Committee considers that these independent inspections act as an important barometer of change within SCRO.

HMIC Primary Inspection of the Scottish Criminal Record Office 2000

586. HMIC returned to SCRO in December 2000 in order to carry out an inspection of the organisation as a whole, including the Fingerprint Bureau.  In carrying out this inspection, HMIC had access to the report prepared by the CMRT.

587. This was a far wider inspection, taking in not only the Fingerprint Bureau but also the Information Technology Bureau, User Support Bureau and other project teams.

588. Seven months on from the inspection of the Fingerprint Bureau, HMIC found that the confidence and morale of SCRO staff had been adversely affected by the criticism of the Bureau in its earlier report.  In particular, the view of HMIC that the organisation was not "fully efficient and effective" had been difficult for staff to accept.  HMIC considered that, in part, this was due to the belief that many of the issues identified by HMIC were outside the direct control of SCRO staff and a result of insufficient resources.382

589. HMIC acknowledged the 90-day scrutiny carried out by the CMRT and reproduced the recommendations and suggestions made by the CMRT in an Annex.  HMIC stated that it was satisfied that “a structured programme is in place to address the recommendations and suggestions, that the task is being approached enthusiastically and vigorously and that much has been done to make progress.”  HMIC also reported that on 7 December 2000 the Bureau had been accredited with the 'ISO 9002' standard, confirming that the SCRO was complying to its own documented standards of quality assurance.383

590. HMIC reported that the action taken since the inspection of the fingerprint bureau had been positive and wide ranging.  A number of points were highlighted which in HMIC’s view demonstrated improvement—

  • The move to the new premises had provided a more obvious independence and a better working environment where procedures and processes could be more readily operated and monitored.
  • The production and publication of the report by the ACPOS Review Group (CMRT) and the creation of a dedicated project group to take issues forward.
  • The allocation of responsibilities and the creation of time scales to produce specific work to secure improvements.
  • The independent checking of the fingerprint product (required by the Lord Advocate and announced in Parliament on 22 June 2000) had confirmed the quality and accuracy of the work of SCRO.  Over 1,400 cases had been examined containing over 4,300 marks with in excess of 6,600 impressions, all of which had been verified.  In view of the results of this verification process HMIC queried whether this was still appropriate and an effective use of resources.
  • The strengthening of the SCRO management team by the introduction of key posts.
  • The effort to recruit additional staff.
  • The agreement of the SCRO Executive Committee to adopt a system of central management for the fingerprint service in Scotland.
  • The appointment of a Head of the Scottish Fingerprint Service to develop and lead the system of centralised management.

591. HMIC was satisfied that the responses so far had been speedy and robust.  HMIC considered that there was a clear need for this process to be pursued “with vigour and regular oversight to avoid any slide backward to the pre-inspection position.”384 

592. Positively, following this inspection HMIC considered that significant progress had been made and that “provided the momentum for securing the necessary improvements is maintained then the outlook is positive.”385

593. HMIC stated that it would re-visit the issues identified by the Inspection of the Fingerprint Bureau and this Inspection of the remainder of SCRO at the Review Inspection in December 2001.386

594. The Committee notes the initial response made by SCRO to address the recommendations of HMIC in the six month period between inspection visits.  The Committee also notes the comment from HMIC that there needed to be regular oversight of the reform process to to avoid any slide backward to the pre-inspection position.

HMIC Second Year Review of SCRO Primary Inspection of 2000

595. By the time of the review inspection in December 2001387, William Taylor had been succeeded as HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary by Sir Roy Cameron.

596. The review inspection focused on the action taken by the SCRO in response to the HMIC Primary Inspection of the SCRO in December 2000.  The format of the review process was to list the recommendations and suggestions of HMIC, followed by the SCRO position and comments by HMIC.  

597. The review did not consider the response made to the Primary Inspection of the Fingerprint Bureau and there are only limited references to the Bureau in the report.

598. The Committee is alarmed that HMIC did not re-visit the issues identified in the inspection of the Fingerprint Bureau in 2000 as part of its review inspection in 2001 despite the clear commitment to do so in December 2000. 

HMIC Third Year Review of SCRO 2003

599. The Third Year Review Inspection by HMIC focused on the actions taken by the SCRO in response to the HMIC Primary Inspection conducted in May 2000 of the Fingerprint Bureau and the Primary Inspection of SCRO as a whole conducted in December 2000.

600. The inspection included scrutiny of written updates and examination of supporting material provided by SCRO and the recently established Scottish Fingerprint Service.  HMIC Staff Officers then visited SCRO to interview a range of staff from SCRO and the Scottish Fingerprint Service and conducted a benchmarking visit to the Fingerprint Unit of Greater Manchester Police for comparative purposes.  The inspection concluded with a visit by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector Of Constabulary, which included a discussion with senior staff on progress in several strategic business areas.388

601. HMIC welcomed the progress that had been made to establish the Scottish Fingerprint Service from the separate bureaux that existed at the time of the last Primary Inspection. HMIC considered that this development had “provided a vehicle to develop and share good practice amongst the professionals working in this arena.” In order to gauge the impact of progress, HMIC recommended that appropriate internal and external surveying be carried out.389

Discharge of recommendations and suggestions

602. The report noted that of the 25 recommendations and 20 suggestions contained within the May 2000 Primary Inspection report, HMIC was able to discharge 17 of the recommendations and 15 of the suggestions.  HMIC was clear that “much effort has been put into and progress made addressing these.”390

603. Annex A to the HMIC 3rd year review report discussed in some detail the status of each recommendation and suggestion.

604. Recommendations discharged included those related to organisational restructuring of fingerprint services (into a four bureaux Scottish Fingerprint Service), introduction of a new Office Management System, and competency testing for experts. 

Procedures

605. In relation to recommendations relating to a review of procedures, HMIC also found that significant progress had been achieved.  In particular, a National Procedures Manual on fingerprint standards and procedures had been produced by the 8 Force Standard Group and launched in June 2001.

606. HMIC considered the manual to be an impressive document.  Acknowledging that the manual and the procedures it contained were subject to review as part of the ISO process, HMIC recommended that an expert from another Bureau examine the manual by way of independent validation.  The Head of the Scottish Fingerprint Service agreed to have this undertaken at the earliest opportunity.  In light of this, HMIC discharged this recommendation.

607. HMIC had recommended that practices within the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau be reviewed with a view to introducing a system, which increased the independence within the identification/verification process.391

608. At the time of the third year review, SCRO informed HMIC that the practical difficulties of separating these processes within bureaux had been recognised by the 8 Force Standard Group.  SCRO reported that, in practice, fingerprint officers undertook initial identifications with a Principal or Senior Fingerprint Officer making the final verification.

609. In addition to this, in order to enhance the credibility of the process, SCRO reported that the following had been introduced—

  • ISO 9001:2000 accreditation had been awarded to the Glasgow Bureau.  it was hoped that this would act as a platform for attainment within Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh. 392
  • A Scottish Fingerprint Service National Operating Procedures Manual had been developed which identified standardised processes to be adopted.
  • Registration of fingerprint experts with the Council for Registration of Forensic Practitioners.
  • Annual competency testing across the Scottish Fingerprint Service.
  • Completion of a diary page by each expert for each case.

610. SCRO also acknowledged the CMRT proposal for the separation of identification and verification processes.  SCRO reported that to date this structural separation had not been totally implemented by the SFS given the size of the bureaux at Dundee, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and the type of crime team structure employed in Glasgow Bureau.  However, the following processes were in place in the Glasgow Bureau—

  • At each stage in the identification and verification process the fingerprint officer completed his/her own evaluation of the characteristic set for the mark to achieve identification.  This characteristic set was not recorded anywhere, hence verifiers did not know the characteristic set used for the identification, they had to find and complete their own characteristic set.
  • Each fingerprint officer in the process stated what mark they had individualised and signed for it.  By signing the officer was committing to go to court for his statement of identification.
  • In each step of the process the officer knew that an identification had occurred but did not know specifically who had made this.
  • All final verifications were carried out by a Principal or Senior Fingerprint Officer.
  • An administrative system was in place whereby each fingerprint officer was given only photographs and tenprints of the case.  Only after reaching a conclusion on the mark would the fingerprint officer be given the case envelope and diary pages to enter results.  At this point the officer would be exposed to the previous findings.393

611. SCRO submitted that the situation regarding the structural separation of verification/identification was under continual discussion and organisational structure of bureaux in England and Wales would be reviewed as part of a benchmarking exercise.

612. HMIC acknowledged the progress that had been made in this respect.  It also acknowledged the difficulties of addressing the question of anonymity in the identification and verification process at the smaller bureaux where the number of fingerprint officers was fewer.  HMIC was pleased to note that progress was being made to ensure that the satellite bureaux successfully attained ISO 9001 status within the next few months.

613. HMIC examined the identification and verification process as it operated within the Glasgow Bureau.  Examples of diary pages were examined on which fingerprint officers recorded their comments.  After each stage the diary page would be returned to a team leader to be passed onto the next fingerprint officer to ensure anonymity.  However, HMIC found that even in a large bureau such as Glasgow, it was difficult to maintain complete anonymity as handwriting may be recognised, for example.

614. HMIC also examined the identification and verification process as it operated within the fingerprint section of Greater Manchester Police, a unit of similar size to the Glasgow Bureau.  Manchester operated a process involving a separate 'checking' team for verification.  The team consisted of two fingerprint officers and a supervisor and was changed on a weekly basis.  HMIC considered that there may be merit in this approach and was of the opinion that the Scottish Fingerprint Service should consider this as part of the move to the non-numeric standard.  The Head of the Scottish Fingerprint Service had undertaken to examine this and other similar processes as part of a benchmarking process.

615. HMIC acknowledged the progress made and the suggestion that further consideration should be given to the identification and verification process and confirmed that it would revisit this recommendation at the next primary inspection.

Non-numeric standard

616. During 2001 England and Wales moved to a non-numeric fingerprint standard.  SCRO had reported to HMIC that the plan to implement a non-numeric standard for fingerprint identification in Scotland remained ongoing.  A project management team chaired by ACC John McLean of Strathclyde Police had been established to address the issue.

617. HMIC commented that it was anticipated that the move to the non-numeric standard would be achieved during 2004.  HMIC confirmed that it would revisit this important area during the next primary inspection.

Outstanding recommendations and suggestions

618. The eight recommendations and five suggestions outstanding, were focussed around three issues—

  • Resourcing
  • Benchmarking
  • Openness

619. In relation to resourcing, HMIC expressed disappointment that the lack of skilled fingerprint experts in the employment market, time required to train new experts and delay in funding provision had “conspired to prevent prompt implementation of optimum staffing levels as recommended by the CMRT scoping study.”394

620. HMIC recommended that benchmarking with other similar sized bureaux in other parts of the United Kingdom should take place and noted that the Head of Scottish Fingerprint Service would pursue this to allow not only performance to be compared but also processes.  HMIC suggested that benchmarking with another bureau would also contribute to a more open and transparent culture within the organisation.395

621. HMIC concluded that it was “satisfied that all the outstanding recommendations are being addressed and that considerable progress has been made.  However HMIC would wish to see the impact of ongoing developments before finally discharging.  They will be revisited at the next Primary inspection in 2004.”396

HMIC Primary Inspection report 2004

622. The most recent primary inspection of SCRO took place during October and November 2004.397  It was conducted by Kenny McInnes QPM, Assistant Inspector of Constabulary (and former lead officer for the ACPOS Change Management Review Team) and Peter Daniels OBE, Her Majesty’s Lay Inspector of Constabulary.

623. The inspection was SCRO-wide although it focused scrutiny on particular themes and elements of the organisation.  One element considered as part of the inspection was the integration of the Scottish Fingerprint Service.

Scottish Fingerprint Service integration

624. The report acknowledged that the fingerprinting service in Scotland had “undergone radical development” following HMIC's Primary Inspection Report of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau in 2000.398

625. Acknowledging the creation of the Scottish Fingerprint Service as a single organisation, HMIC highlighted that “in reality it exists at present only as a collaborative arrangement between SCRO and forces and agreed by chief constables.”399 

626. The principal barrier to further integration identified by HMIC was finance-related.  It had been envisaged that the costs of maintaining the fingerprint bureaux in Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh could be readily taken from the relevant force budget and allocated to SCRO to fund the SFS as a whole. 

627. HMIC expressed disappointment that this had not yet been achieved for 2004-05.  Although agreed in principle by ACPOS, it had been decided to operate a shadow budget for 2005-06 in order to better inform a transfer of funds in the following year.400

628. HMIC also identified other issues which had “stifled integration”.  Importantly, HMIC found little evidence of SCRO or SFS management, above bureau head, routinely engaging with operational staff particularly with respect to staff outwith Glasgow.

629. To some extent, HMIC explained the lack of corporate identity as a function of the fact that SFS staff outwith Glasgow were still employed by their local force.  However, HMIC considered that there was a potential for confusion over issues such as funding, training, provision of equipment and corporate workwear.  The lack of a single absence management policy was also identified as a potentially divisive issue.401

630. HMIC’s view was that, primarily due to historic staffing arrangements, the Aberdeen Bureau appeared to be out of step with efforts to create a national fingerprint service.  Fingerprint experts in Aberdeen continued to operate a dual-role system where, once qualified, they were additionally trained and deployed as scenes of crime officers on a rotational basis.  HMIC considered that the practice of undertaking training in two disciplines was difficult to support.402

631. HMIC also commented on procedures in the Aberdeen Bureau in relation to use of the new SFS Office Management System (OMS).  Although staff in Aberdeen used the OMS, they also continued to key data, essentially the same information, into a separate spreadsheet used by it prior to the establishment of SFS.  Staff argued that the other system was easier to search, but acknowledged that maintaining two applications was a duplication of effort.  In the opinion of HMIC, the official case management application should incorporate all of the necessary functionality and any scope for potential improvements identified at any one site should be progressed for the benefit of SFS as a whole.403

Authorised staffing levels

632. In 2004, the SFS commissioned an internal report to establish the appropriate number of fingerprint experts required in each of the four bureaux.404  This was followed by a further report which proposed the necessary resourcing plan for the SFS for the next five years.405

633. The first report set out the following proposed establishment levels for the four bureaux:

Proposed Bureau Structure
  Aberdeen Dundee Edinburgh
Head of Bureau 1 1 1
Senior Fingerprint Officer 2 2 2
QA/Training Officer 1 1 1
Experts 9 9 9
TOTAL 13 13 13

Glasgow Proposed Bureau Structure –Excluding the Quality Team and Special Cases Unit.
Head of Bureau 1
Deputy Head of Bureau 1
Principal Fingerprint Officer 6
Senior Fingerprint Officer 6
Training Manager 1
Quality Assurance Officer 1
Training Officer 1
Experts 27
  44

634. HMIC commented that the research appeared to be founded on sound principles and the document provided a realistic assessment of the personnel required within SFS over the medium term.406

Verification process

635. In this inspection, HMIC reviewed the progress made in relation to processes for the identification of marks and the preparation of evidence for court highlighted in its Primary Inspection of the Fingerprint Bureau in 2000.

636. HMIC noted that the Glasgow Bureau had adopted a process where anonymity of expert opinion and verification were central factors.  HMIC commented that the process was resource intensive, involving three fingerprint officers being deployed in a Verification Unit and another three within a Quality Support Unit.  Consequently, these individuals were not available for front-line comparison work.  However, HMIC noted that the process had been benchmarked against those in other major bureaux across the UK and HMIC considered it to be effective because it ensured that there were three independent comparisons of marks and detailed procedures were in place to resolve any disputes which arose.407

637. With regard to the bureaux outwith Glasgow, HMIC noted that due to their smaller scale they were unable to adopt the anonymous verification system used in Glasgow because of the limited number of experts available.  HMIC noted that in these bureaux, identifications were all verified by independent expert opinion, but this could not be done anonymously where there are only two or three fingerprint officers within the bureau.408

638. HMIC also noted that SCRO had benchmarked its processes in the smaller bureaux against those in similar bureaux across the UK and was considering arrangements to increase the independence between identification and verification of fingerprint marks at the Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh Bureaux.  HMIC stated that it would examine progress made in this regard at the review inspection.409

Quality assurance accreditation

639. HMIC noted that all four SFS bureaux had achieved accreditation under the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) ISO9001. HMIC acknowledged the positive approach taken by the SFS in undergoing this regular scrutiny and achieving the required quality level associated with the award.410

640. One associated development highlighted in the report was the creation of comprehensive operating processes for the service within the SFS National Procedures Manual.411

641. HMIC also noted that the SFS had actively encouraged its staff to seek registration with the Council for the Registration of Forensic Practitioners (CRFP), a professional regulatory body which maintained a register of currently competent forensic practitioners.  The SFS provided support to staff in terms of membership fees and management of workload to allow time for preparation.  Registration was voluntary but there had been a positive uptake, with some 86% of SFS fingerprint officers accredited or in the process of application.  This compared favourably at a UK level, ranking SFS at the upper range of registration rates.  HMIC acknowledged the increased level of professionalism which widespread registration would bring to the SFS.412

Discharge of outstanding recommendations and suggestions

642. In welcoming the extent of progress which had been made since the Primary Inspection of the Fingerprint Bureau in 2000, HMIC considered that all of the recommendations and suggestions which remained outstanding from that inspection could be discharged.  A statement in relation to each of these was set out in Appendices 'A' and 'B' of the 2004 report.

Conclusions

643. HMIC acknowledged that there was an appetite among SFS staff for future re-structuring within a national forensic science service and that this was being actively progressed for the medium term.  However, HMIC considered it was essential that SCRO handed over a national service which was actually operating as such and, in the interim, recommended that SCRO actively pursued further integration of the SFS, taking account of the specific issues raised in the HMIC Report.413

644. Overall, HMIC considered that the Scottish Criminal Record Office was efficient and effective.414

645. The Committee notes the findings of the HMIC Primary Inspection 2004, and in particular the discharge of the remaining recommendations and suggestions from the Primary Inspection of the Fingerprint Bureau in 2000.  The Committee comments further on this below.

Committee conclusions on REVIEWS OF THE SCRO FINGERPRINT BUREAU

646. Fingerprint services in Scotland have undergone unprecedented change over the last decade.  In 1996, fingerprint services were delivered by SCRO and six smaller bureaux attached to individual Police forces across the country.  The introduction of the Livescan system that year was expected to enhance the service provided to the Police through the electronic capture of fingerprints from accused persons.  However, the need to service the Livescan system on a 24/7 basis without sufficient additional resources placed significant pressure on staff in the SCRO Bureau leading to what management deemed a ‘crisis’.  Many of the resource problems that have beset fingerprint services in Scotland can, therefore, be traced back to that event. 

647. The Marion Ross murder case in 1997 and the disputed identification of Shirley McKie’s thumbprint sparked a deeper crisis in SCRO, the effects of which have spread across Scotland and around the world.

648. In 2000, the HMIC inspection of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau found that it was not “efficient and effective”.  The extent of the difficulties and deficiencies identified by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary were considerable.  HMIC considered that fundamental reform and reorganisation of fingerprint services was required if the situation was to show rapid improvement. 

649. Following the HMIC inspection and further work by the Eight Force Standard Group, a significant reorganisation took place, culminating in the creation of the national Scottish Fingerprint Service, centrally managed but delivered from four bureaux in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.  The HMIC was content that national standards and procedures were agreed and introduced, a quality assurance system was implemented and accredited to ISO 9001 standard, competency testing for experts was introduced and training was overhauled. 

650. Considering the conclusions of the HMIC Primary Inspection of SCRO in 2004, which discharged the remaining recommendations and suggestions made in 2000, it would appear that there had been a remarkable turnaround in all aspects of the operation of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau.  The Committee considers that this degree of organisational change coupled with formal independent scrutiny by HMIC should have, by itself, been sufficient to restore fingerprint services in Scotland to a state of efficiency and effectiveness. 

651. However, from the evidence presented during the course of the inquiry, it is evident to the Committee that there remains a continuing sense of crisis within the Scottish Fingerprint Service.  Although this appears to be principally generated by the continuing dispute around the McKie case, the Committee considers that its root causes still lie in weaknesses in management, processes and human resources.

652. The future of the Scottish Fingerprint Service and public confidence in its work will only be restored if people believe that meaningful change has been effected and the Service can be considered to be operating to the highest of international standards.  It is against this background that recent developments must be measured.

653. In the next section of this report, the Committee considers the future of the Scottish Fingerprint Service including recent developments such as the preparation of a detailed ‘Action Plan for Excellence’ which proposes a further extensive programme of review and reform.


Footnotes:

204 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 1.6.3.1

205 Official Report, Justice 1 Committee, 20 June 2006; c 3434

206 Ibid

207 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, Executive Summary, para ii

208 Official Report, Justice 1 Committee, 6 September 2006; c 3611

209 William Taylor, written evidence, available in volume 2 of this report

210 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 10.1

211 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 1.4.1

212 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 10.4

213 Ibid

214 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 10.5

215 In the HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau report, the APRG is referred to as APRT.

216 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report; para 11.3.3

217 Ibid

218 Official Report, Justice 1 Committee, 6 September 2006; c 3609

219 William Taylor, written evidence

220 Official Report, Justice 1 Committee, 6 September 2006; c 3612

221 Official Report, Justice 1 Committee, 6 September 2006; c 3613 and c 3631

222 Anthony McKenna, written evidence, available in Justice 1 Committee, 5th Report, 2006 (Session 2) - Written evidence received on Scottish Criminal Record Office inquiry (SP Paper 558)

223 Charles Stewart, written evidence

224 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 1.2.6

225 Ibid

226 Ibid

227 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 1.2.8

228 Official Report, Justice 1 Committee, 6 September 2006; c 3635

229 ACPOS, written evidence

230 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report; section 7.2

231 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report; section 5.5

232 Ibid

233 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report; section 7.2

234 Ibid

235 Ibid

236 Conclusions of Leishman Management Consulting reviews, as quoted in ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, Chapter 7.

237 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report; para 7.6.1

238 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report; para 7.6.4

239 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; recommendation 3

240 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 2.15.5

241 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report; para 16.6.3

242 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report; paras 16.6.4 and 16.6.6

243 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 2.15.4

244 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report; paras 16.6.7 and 16.6.11

245 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 2.7.3

246 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 2.7.4

247 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 2.7.5

248 Livescan is a national system which allows an individual’s fingerprints to be captured by optical and electronic scanning.

249 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 2.9.1

250 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 2.10.1

251 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 2.11.1

252 Ibid

253 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; recommendation 2

254 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; suggestion 4

255 ACPOS Presidential Review Group – CMRT scrutiny report; para 15.7.2

256 ACPOS Presidential Review Group – CMRT scrutiny report; paras 17.3.1 – 17.3.2

257 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 3.1.1

258 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 3.1.2 to 3.1.4

259 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 3.1.6

260 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 3.3.2

261 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 4.2.1 and Figure 10

262 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 4.4.1

263 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 4.1.1

264 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 4.1.2

265 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 3.1.8

266 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; recommendation 4

267 ACPOS Presidential Review Group – CMRT scrutiny report; paras 16.1.1 – 16.1.2

268 ACPOS Presidential Review Group – CMRT scrutiny report; para 17.5.4

269 ACPOS Presidential Review Group – CMRT scrutiny report; para 17.7.3

270 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 4.7.1

271 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; paras 4.7.5 – 4.7.6

272 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; paras 4.7.2 and 4.7.4

273 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 4.7.3

274 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 4.7.7

275 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; Recommendation 9

276 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; Recommendation 10

277 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 7.2.1

278 "NAFIS" stands for National Automated Fingerprint Identification System and is the equivalent in England and Wales and Northern Ireland of the Automatic Fingerprint Recognition (AFR) system used in Scotland.

279 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, paras 7.2.3 and 7.2.6

280 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 7.2.8

281 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 7.2.8 and Suggestion 16

282 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.7.24

283 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.7.25

284 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.7.26

285 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 7.5.1

286 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 7.5.4 and Recommendation 17

287 Synopsis of the Mackay Report; report reference 14.3 (Recommendations)

288 Synopsis of the Mackay Report; report reference 14.3 (Recommendations)

289 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, Recommendation 17

290 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.7.32

291 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.7.33

292 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.7.34

293 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para; 3.11.2

294 In computer graphics, “pixelling” or “pixilation” is an effect caused by displaying an image at such a large size that individual pixels, small single-colored square display elements that comprise the bitmap image, are visible to the eye.

295 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 3.11.4

296 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau; para 3.11.5

297 Synopsis of the Mackay Report; report reference 17.14.1.18, precognition of Pat A Wertheim dated 26 May 2000

298 Synopsis of the Mackay Report; report reference 17.16.5

299 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 7.6.2

300 Synopsis of the Mackay Report; report reference 7.16.4.1 – 7.16.4.4

301 Harry Bell, written evidence

302 Synopsis of the Mackay Report; report reference 14.5 (Recommendation)

303 Synopsis of the Mackay Report; report reference 7.22.5

304 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.7.43

305 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, paras 13.7.44 – 13.7.45

306 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.7.40

307 Correspondence from John McLean, 3 May 2006

308 Correspondence from John McLean, 3 May 2006

309 William O’Neill, written evidence

310 Official Report, Justice 1 Committee, 26 June 2006, c 3592

311 Alan Dunbar, written evidence

312 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 5.8.10

313 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 5.9.1

314 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 5.9.2

315 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 5.14

316 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, paras 5.16.1 to 5.16.3

317 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 5.16.4

318 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, paras 5.16.5 and 5.16.6

319 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 8.15.2 - Recommendation 23

320 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.4.12

321 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.4.13

322 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.4.14

323 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.4.15

324 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 5.15.1

325 Synopsis of the Mackay Report; report reference 7.8.16

326 Official Report, Justice 1 Committee, 26 April 2006, c 2889

327 Synopsis of the Mackay Report; report reference 7.8.19

328 Ibid

329 Rudrud and Zeelenberg, Report of fingerprint analysis and comparison, 28 July 2000, section 11

330 Official Report, Justice 1 Committee, 26 June 2006, c3502

331 Official Report, Justice 1 Committee, 26 June 2006, c3564

332 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 5.20.1

333 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 5.20.1

334 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, paras 5.20.3 – 5.20.4

335 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, Recommendation 13

336 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.12.14

337 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.12.15

338 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.12.16

339 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.12.17

340 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.12.18

341 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.12.19

342 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.12.20

343 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, paras 13.12.20 – 13.12.21

344 Terminology used by HMIC and CMRT

345 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, paras 5.11.1 – 5.11.2

346 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 6.8.3

347 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 1.3.2

348 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 5.11.3 and Recommendation 12

349 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 6.8.8

350 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 6.8.9 and Recommendation 15

351 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.10.16

352 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.10.17

353 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.10.18

354 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.10.21

355 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, paras 13.10.22 – 13.10.23

356 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 6.8.7

357 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, paras 1.7.2 – 1.7.3

358 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 6.1.2

359 Official Report, Justice 1 Committee, 26 June 2006, c 3559

360 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 6.5.2

361 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, Recommendation 19

362 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.8.10

363 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, paras 13.8.11 – 13.8.13

364 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 6.3.1

365 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 6.3.3

366 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 6.3.4

367 Ibid

368 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.9.2

369 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.9.5

370 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.9.4

371 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, paras 13.9.6 and 13.9.8

372 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.9.18

373 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 6.6.1 and Suggestion 14

374 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.9.22

375 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.9.23

376 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, para 13.9.24

377 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 6.7.4

378 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 6.7.5

379 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 6.7.5 and Suggestion 15

380 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, paras 13.10.24

381 ACPOS Presidential Review Group - CMRT scrutiny report, paras 13.10.25 – 13.10.26

382 HMIC SCRO Primary Inspection 2000, Executive Summary

383 HMIC SCRO Primary Inspection 2000, para 6.1

384 HMIC SCRO Primary Inspection 2000, para 6.4

385 HMIC SCRO Primary Inspection 2000, Executive Summary

386 HMIC SCRO Primary Inspection 2000, para 6.4

387 HMIC Second Year Review of SCRO Primary Inspection of 2000, published 13 December 2001

388 HMIC Third Year Review of SCRO 2000, para 2.6

389 HMIC Third Year Review of SCRO 2000, para 1.9

390 HMIC Third Year Review of SCRO 2000, para 1.5

391 HMIC Primary Inspection 2000 – SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, para 8.15.2 - Recommendation 23

392 ISO 9001:2000 is an update and amalgamation of the previous ISO 9001, 9002 and 9003 standards

393 HMIC Third Year Review of SCRO 2000, Annex A, commentary on Recommendation 23

394 HMIC Third Year Review of SCRO 2000, para 1.7

395 HMIC Third Year Review of SCRO 2000, para 1.9

396 HMIC Third Year Review of SCRO 2000, para 1.10

397 A review inspection to consider progress since the 2004 Primary inspection took place in 2006.  The report of this review inspection was published by HMIC in December 2006.

398 HMIC SCRO Primary Inspection 2004, para 5.5

399 HMIC SCRO Primary Inspection 2004, para 5.6

400 HMIC SCRO Primary Inspection 2004, para 5.9

401 HMIC SCRO Primary Inspection 2004, paras 5.11-5.12

402 HMIC SCRO Primary Inspection 2004, para 5.13

403 HMIC SCRO Primary Inspection 2004, para 5.14

404 SFS ‘Report to Establish an Appropriate Authorised Bureau Establishment of Fingerprint Experts’, September 2004

405 SFS ‘5 Year Resourcing Plan based on Authorised Bureau Establishment of Fingerprint Experts’, December 2004

406 HMIC SCRO Primary Inspection 2004, para 5.7

407 HMIC SCRO Primary Inspection 2004, para 5.23

408 HMIC SCRO Primary Inspection 2004, para 5.24

409 Ibid

410 HMIC SCRO Primary Inspection 2004, para 5.28

411 HMIC SCRO Primary Inspection 2004, para 5.6

412 HMIC SCRO Primary Inspection 2004, para 5.30

413 HMIC SCRO Primary Inspection 2004, para 5.15 and Recommendation 4

414 HMIC SCRO Primary Inspection 2004, Executive Summary, para 7

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