ENFSI 2012 - Quality Assurance in the Forensic Process


A seminar on the subject of accreditation of the forensic process was held in 2012 as part of the three year project entitled “Sustainable Quality within European Forensic Science (SQWEFS)”, whereas the said seminar was organised by the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes (ENFSI).

ENFSI is an organisation with more than 60 members most of which were accredited by the national accreditation bodies (NABs) signatories to the EA MLA/ILAC MRA. This organisation is a stakeholder of the European co-operation for Accreditation (EA) and it takes active participation in the work of EA by means of different committees and working groups. ENFSI is composed of the three committees: Education and Training Committee, Quality and Competence Standing Committee and Research and Development Committee, whereas its activities are carried out by means of seventeen working groups. ENFSI mission is to upgrade the level of quality of forensic testing in Europe and worldwide, and to develop and promote standards in this field. With the aim of upgrading the level of quality and competence in this field ENFSI is currently carrying out the activities related to five different projects.

There is a strong connection between accreditation and laboratories in this field and ENFSI plans to have all ENFSI laboratories accredited by the end of 2012. Most of the laboratories have already been accredited for the following testing methods: finger print testing, DNA, qualitative and quantitative testing (in bodily fluids) of drugs, medicines, etc. The list of accredited laboratories and their scopes of accreditation can be found at ENFSI website.

First part of the seminar (Quality Assurance in the Forensic Process) was held in Linköping, Sweden, at the premises of the Swedish National Laboratory of Forensic Science, SKL, in the period between 29th March and 31st March 2012.

Numerous workshops and presentations were given during the seminar when a large number of the NAB representatives from the EU and countries from the region participated therein by means of direct discussions. Key issues related to the accreditation of forensic laboratories were presented on that occasion such as: uniformity of the operation of the national forensic laboratories, technical specifications in the forensic process, participation in relevant PT schemes organised by ENFSI, and methodology to be used when assessing the conformance with the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025.

The following topics were presented in detail given that they have a direct influence on the accreditation of forensic laboratories:
-    Location and immediate surroundings of a forensic laboratory;
-    Communication with clients of forensic laboratories;
-    Document and records control;
-    Training of employees and competence maintenance;
-    Interpretation of forensic cases;
-    Sampling;
-    Peer evaluation.

The seminar was attended by Aleksandra Kitanić.

Second part of the seminar (Quality Assurance in the Forensic Process) was held in Stockholm, Sweden, in the period between 19th and 20th November 2012. Christina Bertler, Chair of the ENFSI Quality and Competence Standing Committee (QCC), acted as the seminar moderator. The seminar was attended by approximately 25 NAB representatives from Europe and other parts of the world.

Topics of importance to the establishment of a joint NAB approach in terms of the accreditation of forensic testing and research were presented at the seminar. The following were discussed at the workshops: CSI cases assessed from the perspective of an accreditation body, sampling procedures at the scene of crime, interpretation of cases and research.

Special attention was paid to the clarification in terms of which of the two standards (ISO/IEC 17025 or ISO/IEC 17020) would be more appropriate for different phases of the CSI case research.

The following topics were reviewed from the perspective of accreditation: location, immediate CSI surroundings, sampling, sample handling, CSI photographs and interviews, storage of samples, prevention of cross-contamination of samples, and transport. Special attention was paid to the validation of testing methods.

The following topics were also presented in detail:
-   Participation in PT schemes organised by ENFSI;
-  On-site assessments with special emphasis on finger print testing (different types of print materials, testing and/or comparison methods);
-   Mode of interpretation of CSI research results and content of the test report;
-  Definition of the scope of accreditation.

The seminar was attended by Ljubinka Gligić PhD.