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‘Swapping Carrots for Sticks: Forensic Science Provider Views of the Forensic Regulator Act 2021’

Nsiah Amoako, Emmanuel; McCartney, Carole

‘Swapping Carrots for Sticks: Forensic Science Provider Views of the Forensic Regulator Act 2021’ Thumbnail


Authors

Emmanuel Nsiah Amoako

Carole McCartney



Abstract

In April 2021, the Forensic Science Regulator Act 2021 received Royal Assent, providing new statutory powers for the Forensic Science Regulator (FSR) of England and Wales. These powers are intended to enable the FSR to compel forensic science providers (FSPs) comply with quality standard requirements. The FSR has until now relied upon ‘soft power’ and arguments of benefits to be gained if FSPs achieve accreditation and adhere to the Code of Practice. Reaching the limits of persuasive powers, the FSR Act now introduces powers to penalise FSPs who remain unaccredited or fall below published standards. To gauge the potential impact, forensic scientists were asked to anticipate effects of the Act. Practitioners indicated that the new statutory powers could instil a sense of urgency among police force forensic science units in particular, in prioritising quality and investing in accreditation. However, there are significant capacity limitations which may hamper more widespread and sustainable change, such as financial pressures faced by FSPs, as well as resource constraints within the FSR role. Changing from a regulatory approach focussed upon voluntary cooperation, support and encouraging intrinsic motivations (i.e ‘carrots’), for one reliant upon deterrence in the forms of threats of sanctions and punishment (‘sticks’), could prevent real improvements in quality and undermine the achievement of regulatory aims. The FSR Act is unable to address problems with forensic science provision, that militate against the quality of forensic science services. Thus, benefits accrued from swapping carrots for sticks may be illusory and may ultimately prove counterproductive.

Citation

Nsiah Amoako, E., & McCartney, C. (in press). ‘Swapping Carrots for Sticks: Forensic Science Provider Views of the Forensic Regulator Act 2021’. Science and Justice, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scijus.2022.07.010

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 28, 2022
Online Publication Date Aug 1, 2022
Deposit Date Aug 2, 2022
Publicly Available Date Aug 4, 2022
Journal Science and Justice
Print ISSN 1355-0306
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scijus.2022.07.010
Keywords orensic science regulator, accreditation, statutory powers, quality, Forensic Science Regulator Act
Public URL https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/9782024
Publisher URL https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1355030622000995?via%3Dihub
Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: ‘Swapping Carrots for Sticks: Forensic Science Provider Views of the Forensic Regulator Act 2021’; Journal Title: Science & Justice; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scijus.2022.07.010; Content Type: article; Copyright: © 2022 Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.

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