The Harrogate-based Forensic Science Society has been awarded a Royal Charter, a move its president believes will help it drive forward global standards in scientific investigation.
Dr Ann Priston OBE said chartered status was a hugely important step forward for the society.
Dr Priston has been a practicing forensic scientist since 1970 and the society’s president since 2009. She said achieving chartered status had been a personal goal.
“Forensic science has suffered so many knocks in recent years and some good news was desperately needed to help us begin to rebuild the morale that has been bruised by cutbacks,” said Dr Priston.
She said the decision to close the Forensic Science Service in England and Wales in 2010 had been a particular blow to those working in the field.
“That was a low point which led to a huge loss of skill and expertise at a time when forensic science was in greater demand than ever before and was moving into exciting new areas such as digital investigation and anthropology.
“Thanks to the professionalism and dedication of our members we have managed to ride the storm and I’m extremely proud that the Royal Charter has been granted during my presidency.
“Not only does it underline our longstanding commitment to integrity and impartiality within forensic science, it also acknowledges the expertise within our organisation which is so valued by the courts.”
Commenting on developments in the field of forensics during her career, Dr Priston said she believed breakthroughs in DNA profiling had been by far the most significant and is a powerful means of exonerating as well as incriminating individuals.
“Science will always have a crucial role to play in criminal investigations but new areas of research mean our members are now having an impact in all sorts of areas – the art world, forensic accounting, archeology and technology.
“The digital arena represents one of the biggest areas of growth as forensic scientists explore how mobile phones and computers are used in criminal activity,” she said.
The society will now become the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences with the ability to grant its members chartered status.
“The granting of a Royal Charter is reserved for those organisations that are viewed as eminent within their fields and which show a solid record of achievement.
“This is something that all our members can be proud to be a part of.”