Questions around drug and alcohol testing for child protection proceedings

The government’s forensic regulator is calling for scrutiny of drug and alcohol testing, carried out for family courts. After a scandal at a laboratory in Manchester, doubts have been raised about the quality of evidence used in thousands of child protection proceedings.

Gillian Tully appears to be a main figure when raising concerns around the lack of oversight of forensic companies working with the family courts, by conversing with policing minister, Nick Hurd, as well as sending a letter to the chair of parliament’s science and technology select committee.

The Home Office recently announced that 10,000 criminal cases in England and Wales were being reviewed, as it emerged that data run at a Randox lab may have been manipulated.

The Randox investigation came to light earlier this year, when it was found that two employees had been arrested. The two men were seniors within a department that once catered for around half of all hair-strand alcohol and drug tests ordered by the family court.

Concerns have been raised since 2012, where a series of judgements found errors in drug and alcohol results, particularly in cases that substance abuse was a decisive factor as to whether children could remain with their parents.

A ministry of Justice spokesperson said: ‘Our immediate priority is to work with the police to establish the full sale of this issue and the potential impact on the public.’

‘We have put processes in place to allow people to address any concerns they have over cases heard in the family courts, and will continue to consider what measures can be implemented to reduce the risk of similar problems in the future.’

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