The Fingerprint Inquiry, Scotland
The Report of the Fingerprint Inquiry was published on 14 December 2011.
On 14 March 2008 the Scottish Government established a public inquiry into the case of former policewoman Shirley McKie which Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill said has "cast a cloud over the individuals involved and has been a source of serious concern for the criminal justice system for the past decade."
Immediately after the publication of the findings Tom Nelson, director of forensic services at the Scottish police services authority (SPSA) issued a personal apology in public over the handling of the matter to Shirley McKie and her father Iain. See Guardian report by Eamonn O'Neill 14 12 2011.
Key recommendations of the Report include:
- Fingerprint evidence should be recognised as opinion evidence, not fact, and those involved in the criminal justice system need to assess it as such on its merits.
- Examiners should discontinue reporting conclusions on identification or exclusion with a claim to 100% certainty or on any other basis suggesting that fingerprint evidence is infallible.
- Features on which examiners rely should be demonstrable to a lay person with normal eyesight as observable in the mark.
- A finding of identification should not be made if there is an unexplained difference between a mark and a print.