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1,778 positive drug driving samples collected between April 2019 and December 2020 have been rescinded as evidence. All the samples were analysed by Synlab Laboratory Services Limited. Concerns were raised over the lab’s quality assurances process in December 2020, resulting in a review by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the Forensic Science Regulator (FSR).
This could mean that some drug driving convictions are overturned.
Have you been impacted by the Synlab scandal?
If you are concerned about the validity of your drug driving conviction, please contact us at Ashmans Solicitors. Our motor defence lawyers offer expert legal advice for a fixed fee. We act on behalf of all motorists, including new drivers.
If you instructed Ashmans during your original drug driving case and the evidence has since been deemed unsafe by the NPCC, the Crown Prosecution Service has said they will contact the defence. We will contact our clients as soon as we know more.
Review into Synlab
The reviews conducted by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the Forensic Science Regulator (FSR) have revealed that Synlab Laboratory Services Limited’s analysis of drug driving samples, specifically Section 5A Road Traffic Act toxicology testing for controlled drugs, contained issues with quality assurance processes. Now, all results produced by Synlab between April 2019 and December 2020, where they reported results above the prescribed drug driving limit, must be withdrawn as evidence. However, the reviews found no evidence of any malicious intent.
1,778 results have been rescinded
In December 2020, Synlab alerted the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) and the FSR of the issue and ceased any further processing of Section 5A samples. Consequently, Synlab’s UKAS accreditation was suspended. In January 2021, the NPCC established a review that included representatives from the Association of Police & Crime Commissioners, the FSR, UKAS, the Home Office, and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to investigate the identified issues and assess their impact on the results produced.
Initial reviews conducted in the first half of 2021 resulted in several rescinded results. Subsequently, in September 2021, the NPCC and its partners instructed a further significant review of Synlab’s processes and data for the remaining results. The findings of this work concluded that the analysis and processes were not conducted to the appropriate standard, and as a result, the remaining evidential results must also be withdrawn.
During the period between April 2019 and December 2020, Synlab conducted Section 5A drug drive analysis of 4,255 samples. Out of these samples, 2,181 had no drugs present or contained a level of drug reported as below the prescribed limit. 296 samples were from cases that were discontinued for various reasons, including a decision by the police to take no further action, or there was no conviction at court. The remaining 1,778 samples had drug levels reported by Synlab as above the prescribed limit, and these results have now been rescinded.
“Hugely challenging for those individuals who are impacted by the results”
National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Forensics, Chief Constable Nick Dean, said: “This has been a lengthy and in-depth review, which I know has been hugely challenging for those individuals who are impacted by the results. I would like to commend their patience while we have worked through the data. The reviews were done, at such a detailed level, because we are committed to ensuring evidence entering the courts is reliable. We take any issues seriously and wanted to ensure due diligence was taken to achieve the correct outcome.
“Synlab have been very forthcoming and open during the reviews, which we welcome. I want to thank all our partners who have spent many hours reviewing and working hard to try and get this right.
“It is hugely regrettable, whenever evidence that has been submitted to the courts in good faith has to be withdrawn. We know that this will have significant knock-on effects for people. The CPS have been or will be contacting all those whose samples have been rescinded.”
What will happen to those whose results have been rescinded?
The Crown Prosecution Services’ press office has said: “Following the conclusion of the review into Synlab’s drug testing results between April 2019 and December 2020 we are contacting the defence in cases where there was a conviction. This process will take time and whether a conviction is set aside will be different in each case depending on all the available evidence.”
Therefore, the CPS has said they will contact the defence in cases where the defendant was convicted using Synlab drug testing results. We will contact our clients as soon as we know more.
In the meantime, if you think your drug driving conviction is unsafe, please contact us at Ashmans Solicitors. Those who have been impacted by the Synlab review could have their convictions set aside. This means any ongoing driving bans must be lifted, and the offence must be removed from your record. In turn, this will reduce your insurance premiums and possibly even improve your employment prospects.
Contact our solicitors
Have you been accused of drug driving? Our motor defence solicitors are on hand to provide expert legal advice. We can explain the options available to you, outlining whether you have a defence that could ultimately save your licence. We act on a fixed fee basis. Contact our drug driving solicitors to find out more.
Call us on 0333 009 6275. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.