Anna Sandiford

Dr Anna Sandiford is a forensic science consultant and expert witness. She is also Director of The Forensic Group Ltd, a scientific consultancy based in New Zealand with an extensive national and international networks of experts upon whom to call. She has been been involved with forensic science since 1998 in both the UK and New Zealand and has assisted with cases throughout New Zealand, the UK, Channel Islands and Cayman Islands. Her areas of forensic expertise include alcohol, drugs, drug driving, drug traces, footwear/sockprints, glass and pollen (palynology). She is one of a handful of forensic pollen experts worldwide and is involved with an international team that provides environmental forensic services to police and intelligence agencies, particularly in the UK.

Forensic pathology in New Zealand - Forensic Scientist

Mar 11, 2016

In an article on 09 March 2016, Justice Brewer was described as saying that if he’s forced to adjourn a murder trial involving a Taupo toddler, he will be calling for an inquiry into New Zealand’s forensic and pathology system. This was in response to a defence lawyer indicating that he had had difficulty instructing an independent forensic pathologist to review the findings of the Crown-instructed expert in addition to Justice Brewer’s previous experience of similar issues in other cases. I was called by a journalist from the NZ Herald the same day and asked for comments (“Forensic shortage irks judge”). The story indicates that I am a forensic pathologist. I am not, and I have asked the Herald to correct the error. The main point of this post is to indicate that New Zealand is deplete … Read More

Forensic Hair Analysis – does it get to the root of the problem? - Forensic Scientist

Sep 17, 2015

Hair analysis is often referred to as hair follicle testing. It is commonly used in Family court matters to assess whether or not parents or caregivers who want access to children are drug-free. The process involves collection of a sample of hair (usually from the crown of the head but other areas are possible) by a trained hair sample collector and then analysing the hair for the presence of drugs. Hair analysis is often claimed to be the perfect solution to the question of determining historic drug use or abuse. Segmental analysis is said to determine use over a period of time – on average for adults a centimetre of hair is said to represent a month’s growth so analysing a strand of hair that is 10 centimetres long would reflect the subject’s use of drugs over the ten months … Read More

Of the FBI and ESR: what can we expect forensic science to deliver? - Forensic Scientist

May 12, 2015

I haven’t written a blog post for a loooong time.  That’s because in the last year or so I have written another book (Forensic Science and the law: a Guide for Police, Lawyers and Expert Witnesses – the first book of its kind in New Zealand) and have been involved in some high-profile cases including (read more)

Prosecuting sexual assault cases – new approach? - Forensic Scientist

Feb 03, 2015

When Judith Collins was Minister for Justice she suspended Law Commission work on alternative models for prosecuting criminal cases.   The Law Commission had originally been asked to consider alternative models by the earlier Justice Minister, Simon Power.  A paper was released in February 2012 entitled “Alternative Pre-trial and Trial Processes: Possible Reforms” – so a (read more)

Of zombies and children - Forensic Scientist

Jan 03, 2015

“ ’Scuse me, but do dead bodies really look like zombies?”  As questions go at the end of a presentation, this one took me by surprise – but I guess it shouldn’t have done so, given that I was speaking to about 150 primary, intermediate and high school gifted children.  With hindsight, it’s exactly what (read more)

What is a standard alcoholic drink? - Forensic Scientist

Nov 06, 2013

What IS a standard alcoholic drink?  It’s a nightmare, that’s what it is.  As a forensic alcohol toxicologist, the concept of a standard drink is somewhat arbitrary and inconsistent because the people drinking them differ in physical stature and biological processing ability so the alcohol in a standard drink contributes a different amount to people (read more)

Don’t forget: breath alcohol levels continue to rise after you stop drinking! - Forensic Scientist

Nov 06, 2013

I have just been watching Campbell Live where the presenters had a two-hour lunch with alcoholic drinks and then tested themselves with a breath alcohol screening device to see how they felt to drive compared with what alcohol they had actually consumed.  This is all as a result of the government’s (good, in my opinion) (read more)