Randox – An Explanation
In January 2017 the Police opened an investigation into a company called Randox, a laboratory who used to test blood samples for the police in relation to drink and drug drive cases, as it was suspected that they had manipulated data in relation to approximately 450 cases. The investigation has steamrolled since then.
Randox have two laboratories, one small lab in Manchester and the main one in Northern Ireland, and it was only the one in Manchester that was under investigation. Then last year the investigation expanded so both labs were under investigation – their accreditation as toxicologists for the Home Office was suspended and there was a question mark over 6000 blood samples that they tested. Now that figure has risen to over 10,500.
90 people have had their convictions overturned, some of who have had their lives destroyed because of a wrongful conviction and are now suing for damages.
41 of the UK’s 42 Police forces have been affected.
Less than half of the samples have been tested so far and the investigation is going to continue well into 2019.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council called it the worst evidence breach “in living memory” and has expressed significant concern at the delay this is causing to the criminal justice system.
The two employees accused of manipulating the data are suspected of perverting the course of justice – an offence which, if convicted, would almost certainly result in a prison sentence – and the police are now considering extending the investigation to the laboratory where the 2 employees worked previously – Trimega Labs.
But how did we get here and what does it mean?
The Testing Procedure
At Patterson Law we have been speaking with 2 leading experts in the field of Toxicology to find out exactly how it has got to this stage.
They have explained that once a person is detained by the police under suspicion of drink or drug driving, the Police will often require them to provide a specimen of blood for analysis to accurately determine the amount of drugs/alcohol in the person’s blood.
That specimen of blood is then sent to a Home Office approved laboratory for testing. Randox was one of those labs.
These specimens are not just tested once by the lab, they are each tested six times. Each time it is tested a result is obtained and they then take an average result – and it is that average that is used at court to show whether a driver is under or above the legal drink/drug driving limits.
Each time they test, so six times per specimen, the laboratory also test the machine’s calibration. They do standard tests with expected results, and if those results are within a set tolerance then they find the machine to be working and properly calibrated.
Each laboratory will test a vast number of specimens per day and so there are hundreds of these calibration checks done.
If more than three of the calibration checks are out, then the government guidance suggests that the entire days tests need to be re-done.
So what were Randox doing?
Randox and the Police have not been clear on exactly what evidence has been breached, but our experts have told us that it relates to these calibration checks. At Randox, they were having more than three checks out per day. They were only slightly out, but according to the government principles it should have meant that the whole day’s tests should have been re-done.
But instead they were manipulating the calibration results to make it seem that they were within the parameters when actually they were not, meaning they could not prove that the machine was properly calibrated and therefore that results they obtained were accurate.
There was then an internal whistleblower who raised the manipulation and that is how the investigation started.
What is happening now?
Randox voluntarily suspended their accreditation.
The investigation has expanded rapidly. Initially only a few hundred samples were being investigated, then 1000, then 6000, now it’s over 10,500. 90 people have so far had their convictions overturned.
Currently Randox are paying for all of the specimens to be re-tested at other laboratories. The Police have not been clear about exactly how many have been re-tested so far, but we understand that approximately 3000 did not need to be retested because the blood sample was not crucial to the outcome at Court, and of the remaining 7,500 or so less than half have been tested.
We have also spoken with a District Crown Prosecutor who has explained that the CPS have been told that they are to contact everybody whose blood specimen either cannot be retested for whatever reason or whose blood has been retested and the results are not accurate, and they are to reopen the proceedings against them. That has happened on 90 cases so far.
But our understanding is also that those people whose samples who have been re-tested and are accurate are not going to be contacted.
What does this mean for drivers who have been convicted of drink or drug driving?
The first thing to check is whether your specimen was a Randox one. The Police generally use 4 accredited labs and Randox is only one of them. If it was tested by a different lab the specimen will not be affected. For those who have a copy of their evidence the information should be contained in a document called the “SFR 1 – Streamlined Forensic Report”. For those who do not have their evidence more detailed enquiries will need to be made with the Crown Prosecution Service.
The second point is that the specimen must have been tested by Randox during the period under investigation. So far the Police and Randox have not released the exact dates, but we are aware that the manipulation began late 2014/early 2015 and the employees were not arrested until November 2016, so any time from late 2014 up to the end of 2016 is worth investigating.
If your case is both a Randox one AND the blood sample was tested during the affected period, then you may have a case to argue for your matter to be reopened.
Just because the CPS have not contacted you directly does not mean you haven’t got a case. It’s all good and well for Randox to pay for other laboratories to retest the samples, however our view is if the people working for Randox have been accused of perverting the course of justice then who’s to say that the samples retain the integrity necessary?
Surely the whole process, if they have been in the hands of Randox who were employing people who are now charged with criminal offences, then integrity of the other results would be in question, as well as the storage, manipulation and many other areas. We would challenge every single case that went through the hands of Randox at the relevant time.
If you think you could have been affected: