Understanding Streamlined Forensic Reporting (SFR)

An SFR report may answer who and what, but not other questions such as how.SFR, or Streamlined Forensic Reporting, first introduced in 2013, is designed to enable investigators, scientists, prosecutors and the defence to comply with the requirements of the Criminal Procedure Rules (CrimPR).  It is a case management procedure for producing forensic evidence at court which seeks to reduce costs and delay in the Criminal Justice System.  The primary purpose is to narrow down the real issues, including scientific evidence issues, upon which the court must decide.  The aim is to achieve early agreement with the defence and to identify contested issues prior to trial.  Since 2013, there have been a few changes to this reporting system.  Understanding what a Streamlined Forensic Report does and doesn’t tell you can be critical to being able to effectively advise a defendant.

New guidance

The new, nationally approved SFR (Streamlined Forensic Reporting) guidelines were published in July 2020, reflecting changes in the Criminal Procedure Rules and Case Management, the Forensic Science Regulator requirements as well as a new approach to declarations of UKAS accreditation status.

Updated SFR Forms

The SFR process is deemed suitable for presenting both evidence of fact and opinion in a variety of evidence types, including National DNA Database (NDNAD) match reports and casework.  There are now a number of updated report templates which might be used – MG22A, MG22B (SFR1) and MG22C/D (SFR2).

It is important to note that:

  •  The MG22B (SFR1) report continues to be a summary of the forensic evidence and is not designed to comply with CrimPR 19.4.
  •  If the MG22B is a National DNA Database match report it is possible that this has been produced by an administrative team and the profiles will not have been physically compared by a scientist.
  •  Once an MG22B is served the defence need to respond within 14 days (or as soon as is reasonably practicable) by identifying the issues which are contested and triggering the production of an MG22C/D (SFR2).

 

Limitations of the system

The MG22B reports now provide a little more information than before, such as the forensic laboratory reference and limited information about whether the DNA profiling result is a mixture of DNA or a partial profile.  However, the results presented are unlikely to provide:

  • Any information about the levels of DNA which have been detected (this helps to inform how the DNA may have been transferred).
  • A statistical evaluation to support the DNA match (particularly where a mixture of DNA ha been detected).
  • Any evaluations regarding how the detected DNA/body fluid may have been transferred.

Concerns about this system of reporting of forensic evidence, which we highlighted previously, remain.

 

More information about SFR report

The guidance for the SFR system can be accessed at the Forensic Capability Network’s website including examples of each of the reports.  There are also supplementary technical notes for biology/DNA findings.  These replace many of the explanatory technical information paragraphs that might usually be included in a scientist’s statement.

Still need help with an SFR? 

We are here to help you understand what an MG22B (SFR1) report means and its limitations.  We can provide quick, free initial advice and follow up with a short report where that would be of assistance (within the costs for which legal aid prior authority is not required).  Contact us if you need to understand more about an SFR report.