Published: 14:52, 24 June 2019
| Updated: 16:07, 24 June 2019
Court cases and criminal investigations in the county are facing lengthy delays after a cyber-attack on the UK's largest forensics lab.
Kent Police has suspended all forensics submissions to Eurofins Scientific in the wake of the ransomware assault.
The move means important crime work is on hold, such as DNA tests on unidentified remains, however fingerprint analysis and some crime scene investigations are still possible.
Nothing is coming in or going out of the laboratory and therefore results which should have been due this month now won't be received until after the situation has been resolved.
Urgent work, carried out by Eurofins Scientific before the attack came to light on June 3, is being sent to alternative suppliers but due to limited capacity investigations and court cases are facing significant delays.
Eurofins works on high profile cases such as murders and terrorism offences but the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said it is unclear when work with the company will resume.
It must first receive assurances its systems are safe.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has been informed and is working with UK police forces to monitor the incident and mitigate potential risks.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Forensics, chief constable James Vaughan, said: “As a result of the ransomware attack against Eurofins Scientific, we have temporarily suspended all law enforcement submissions to their forensic science subsidiary.
“It is too early to fully quantify the impact but we are working at pace with partners to understand and mitigate the risks..." chief constable James Vaughan
“Our priority - alongside the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners - is to minimise the impact on the criminal justice system.
“We have put our national contingency plans in place, which will see urgent submissions and priority work diverted to alternative suppliers to be dealt with as quickly as possible.
“It is too early to fully quantify the impact but we are working at pace with partners to understand and mitigate the risks. We will share more information as soon as we can.”
Ransomware infiltrates an IT system and threatens to publish the victim’s data or block their access to it by encrypting files.
Eurofins said action had been taken to contain the incident and that it had not so far found any evidence that confidential client data had been stolen or transferred.
Kent Police was unable to confirm how much of its case load is affected.