Forensic experts and miscarriages of justice: the inquiry into pediatric forensic pathology in Ontario. Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The care and protection of children in our community is usually given one of the highest priorities by governments and service providers. Similarly, we respond severely to those proven to have abused or caused deliberate harm to children. Acceptance of these high standards is predicated on our ability to correctly identify and appropriately investigate alleged crimes against children. When concerns regarding expertise in the correct detection of child abuse arise, they can significantly impair the justice system and lead to considerable social harm, as evidenced by the results of the inquiry into paediatric forensic pathology in Ontario. The inquiry found that the failures of the paediatric forensic pathology service in that Province did not occur in isolation but were allowed to be perpetuated over time by the action and inaction of a range of individuals and agencies. Deficiencies in governance, accreditation, training, supervision, audit and review were all highlighted in the findings of the commission. These are relevant not only to Ontario but to many jurisdictions where forensic medical and legal services continue to struggle with the special scientific and legal issues that are raised by child abuse.

publication date

  • August 1, 2009