Forensic Testing – The Importance Of Ascld-Lab International Accreditation

The American Association of Crime Lab Directors accreditation board (ASCLD-LAB) accredits laboratories in the field of forensic testing. Its International Program differs from its legacy program in that it also incorporates ISO/IEC 17025, a list of strict quality standards highly valued in laboratories around the world. ASCLD/LAB has adopted four objectives which define the purposes and nature of its accreditation programs.

They are:

  • To improve the quality of laboratory services.
  • To adopt, develop and maintain standards which may be used by a laboratory to assess its level of performance and to strengthen its operation.
  • To provide an independent, impartial, and objective system by which laboratories may benefit from a total operational review.
  • To offer to the general public and to users of laboratory services a means of identifying those laboratories which have demonstrated compliance with established standards.

Labs seeking ASCLD/LAB-International accreditation must demonstrate conformance to the requirements in ISO/IEC 17025:2005, General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories as well as the ASCLD/LAB-International Supplemental requirements for the accreditation of forensic science testing laboratories (2006). These supplemental requirements include the most current FBI Quality Assurance Standards. Stringent external assessments performed on a scheduled basis ensure that these requirements and standards are constantly being followed.

ASCLD-LAB is the most well known and certainly the most prestigious organization that specifically accredits forensic testing laboratories. Other accreditation organizations exist that legally accredit forensics, but none are as thorough as ASCLD-LAB. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the forensic testing laboratory you select carries ASCLD-LAB International accreditation. You can view the list of labs at:
http://www.ascldlab.org/labstatus/accreditedlabs.html

Beware of laboratories that claim to be accredited but do not mention what accreditation they have. Using these laboratories for legal tests may result in the judge dismissing your report. Accreditation is part of a laboratory’s quality assurance program which should also include proficiency testing, continuing education, customer liaison, and other programs to help the laboratory provide more effective overall service. Without accreditation, these quality indicators may not be followed.