HC Deb 11 March 1987 vol 112 cc291-2
39. Mr. Allan Stewart

asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland when he expects to receive the report of the Crown Agents' working party on forensic science services in Scotland; and if he will make a statement.

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

It is expected that the report will be submitted to Ministers by late summer. Given the ever-increasing importance of forensic science in the successful detection and prosecution of crime, I await with interest the conclusions and recommendations of the Crown Agent's working party.

Mr. Stewart

I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend for that information. Can he say anything more about the focus of the working party's report? Will it concentrate on forensic science services in relation to drug offences or will it cover more general matters?

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

The working party will look at the arrangements for providing forensic science services in Scotland more generally. Clearly, with the increase in drug cases of which my hon. Friend is aware and concerned about, there has been some anxiety that there may be some delay. That matter is being examined as part of the working party's remit. However, I should like to emphasise that it is not a question of the standard! or quality of the forensic scientists in Scotland. Rather it seeks to ensure that the provision is as adequately and satisfactorily provided as possible.

Dr. Godman

What part do the police surgeons play in the forensic science services? Is it not time that more women doctors were trained as police surgeons?

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

The specific matter of police surgeons is not part of the working party's considerations. However, I am aware that my hon. Friend the Member for Galloway and Upper Nithsdale (Mr. Lang) has given a parliamentary answer to the effect that although there are only a limited number of women police surgeons in Strathclyde, the Strathclyde police have taken steps to ensure that an additional number are acquired to assist in those sensitive cases in which it would be more appropriate for a woman doctor to undertake the examination.