Review into Accuracy and Reliability of Forensic Evidence Shelved

A national review into the reliability of forensic evidence used in Australian Courts has recently been abandoned by the nation’s Attorneys-General despite mounting concerns that innocent people are being jailed using questionable science.

The investigation, announced in November 2019 by the Council of Attorneys-General, was recently cancelled before a team of top legal, forensic and scientific minds could conduct any significant work or develop a reform plan.

The review into the use of forensic evidence in the Australian criminal system was announced after international studies found five widely accepted forensic “sciences” (bullet, hair, footprint, bite marks and mixed sample DNA analyses) to not work or have no strong evidence proving they work.

Gary Edmond, Director of the University of New South Wales Expert Evidence in Law Program said in a recent newspaper article[1] “we are completely out of step with other comparable countries” in this area.

The exercise to push through a review of the use of forensic evidence in criminal investigations and the Australian Courts have been spearheaded by the then Victorian Attorney-General and by the Victorian Court of Appeal President Chris Maxwell who were outspoken in their concern about the integrity of the legal system’s dealing with forensic evidence and the potential for miscarriages of justice.

Edmond has observed that a recent series of high level independent reports in the US reveal that much evidence produced in Court lacks solid scientific foundation having not been shown to be valid and reliable[2].

Australian Governments thrive on law and order campaigns especially at election time calling for ever greater Police and Prosecution powers.  These same State Government actors show zero interest in remedying miscarriages of justice especially those caused by faulty scientific evidence commonly led in criminal cases.


[1] See Sydney Morning Herald 21/05/2021 Forensics Review

[2] See Forensic Science Evidence, Wrongful Convictions and Adversarial Process by David Hamer and Gary Edmond, University of Queensland Law Journal, Vol 38, No 2 (2019)