The UK is one of the few major nations not to have a national forensic science institute and, in the wake of government market-based policy, no longer has a national forensic science service. The main repercussion of these deficiencies is fragmentation and creeping deregulation. Unless standards are unified, certified and monitored, unprofessional practices arise as do unprofessional practitioners.
This is, of course, a reference to one in particular:
A recent series of events exemplify the urgent need for re-appraisal. This month Dr Freddy Patel, a pathologist who had provided the initial opinion following the death of Ian Tomlinson in the 2009 G20 protest, was stuck (sic) off by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service. The panel found that he had an arrogant mindset that generated an unwarranted confidence in his own ability.
Gosh, he must have stood out in a crowd of medical personnel…
If this were an exceptional aberration by a novice that slipped through the net it would be serious enough, but the malaise runs much deeper. Patel had been qualified for 35 years. Significant concerns about him had been voiced before 2009. These had seen him removed from the Metropolitan police panel of pathologists offered contracts in 2004. The following year other complaints were presented to the GMC. After 2006 it was a prerequisite to qualify for the Home Office register that the practitioner be part of a group practice of pathologists. Patel concealed the fact that he was not part of a group from the National Policing Improvement Agency.
Terrible! If only he didn’t work for such a trusting bunch of people, unfamiliar with the concept of suspicion and investigation!
Somewhere along the line someone is not applying strict scrutiny.
A pathologist told BBC News on 23 August that it was well known among some of the profession that Patel had been routinely giving the cause of death as natural causes when this cannot have been the case.
That being so, why wasn’t he rumbled sooner?
Well, it’s because…errr, well….
It must be those Tories, right? And those vicious cuts to public services!
It could be regarded as the understatement of the century to wonder where quality control of evidential sources has gone. This has immediate ramifications for the overall integrity of our system of justice and should ring alarm bells in all quarters. The whole sullied picture is exacerbated by the iniquitous cuts in public funding which have already hit forensic science resources but are also impacting upon the quality and numbers of personnel who are willing to engage in the system at all levels.
If market forces are to be the determinative factor in the quest for truth then, just like most economies, we will be heading for irretrievable meltdown. Justice is not a business enterprise, still less a commodity. It is “truth in action”.
It couldn’t possibly have been the surname, could it? And the desperate need for diversity?
Nah. Perish the thought.