Expert Witness

row of legal books

Crew’s team of Expert Witnesses provide reports and testimony on drug issues such as current street prices, trends, prevalence, methods of use, quantities and paraphernalia involved in substance use, cultivation and manufacture. Crew has provided this service since 1997.

Expert Witnesses at Crew consult firms about their needs, are evaluated by their peers and are required to learn and maintain knowledge of legal practice. Good, rapid report writing and clear testimony can alleviate some of the pressure of representing clients who may present in a chaotic way. Often the Crew team pick up on key aspects of a case that, if overlooked, could delay or impede the result.

Crew maintains a database of casework to ensure uniformity of reporting across the team. Our expert team have a vast knowledge of psychoactive drugs including, but not limited to; cannabis, cocaine, opiates, benzodiazepines and New Psychoactive Substances (NPS). We also have experts specialising in areas such as ‘poly drug’ use and long-term drug taking as well as problematic and recreational drug use.

Crew’s expertise is well established in Scottish courts. Crew can be relied upon for up-to-date expertise and credibility, much of it gained through our outreach work that maintains close connections to people who take drugs, as well as through our drug counselling service. Crew has access to local and national information on the price of drugs and regularly carries out surveys of people who take a variety of drugs.

Crew’s Expert Witnesses have extensive experience of engagement with other experts and professionals in the fields of criminal justice, health and social services. Crew provides UK wide services with links to agencies and organisations across the UK and Europe.

Crew is a member of the Law Society of Scotland.

If you’re the client

Please contact a defence solicitor and ask about Legal Aid. You can ask your solicitor to instruct Crew to prepare a court report on your behalf. 

Prices

£250: 4 hours or more
£328: 6 hours or more
£410: 8 hours or more

Typical quote

We expect the work to take a minimum of 5 hours, so we would ask for clients to arrange sanction in place for £250 before proceeding. Please note that this is an estimate and is dependent on the number of productions made available for review and the complexity of the case. If the total productions exceed fifty pages, or the experts find additional complexity upon review, we reserve the right to re-quote and will notify you as soon as possible. If further information becomes available after the report has been submitted and you require amendments to be made, we will ask you to ensure that additional sanction is in place at the hourly rate of £41.

Either one of the report signatories would attend court, excluding dates with prior commitments indicated in the report, at a maximum rate of £410 per day plus travel and subsistence costs at reasonable rates. Attendance for a half day may be charged at £250 where reasonable notice has been given and total time (travel plus attendance) does not exceed 6 hours.

What to do next

If you wish to instruct Crew in this, please supply the following (as applicable):

  • letter of instruction that states precisely what you wish us to consider and report on in this case and the date by which you require the report
  • police witness statements
  • forensic report
  • mobile telephone report if one is to be used in evidence
  • police expert witness report if ready
  • any statement your client might have made (full transcript of interview)
  • any corroborating evidence of your client’s apparent addiction or dependency to substances
  • if appropriate: how your client affords the amount of drug attributed to them
  • copy of any notations (tick lists, etc)
  • copy of photographs of cultivation
  • lists of equipment such as lights/fans/heaters/hydroponic systems/plant cuttings
  • any other evidence that may be relevant to this case
  • trial dates as they become available

To request a quotation please email us with your client’s name and Procurator Fiscal reference.

Meet our Experts

John ArthurJohn is the Senior Associate with Crew and has worked with people who take drugs, in both a professional and voluntary capacity, for the past 20 years. He has set up several projects and initiatives, developed early intervention strategies with people who take heroin, established drugs information and recovery support services, and is considered an authority on substance use and recovery from addiction.

John has over 15 years’ experience in providing expert reports and testimony in the Scottish courts.

He provides training and information around harm reduction approaches, emerging trends in new psychoactive substances and recovery community development practices to a variety of key professionals such as:

  • police officers, prison officers and medical personnel;
  • social service personnel and youth workers in a variety of local authorities;
  • national and international conferences and think tanks;
  • drugs workers and
  • policy makers and governmental drugs information providers.

Working with people who use drugs, John has supported people to access treatment and rehabilitation or to stabilise their drug use. He is familiar with the sorts of quantities and the variety of substances that people are likely to use for the purposes of intoxication and keeps up to date with current street prices of various illicit substances. John is an accredited Recovery Coach and currently works with people who are attempting to recover from addiction to legal and illegal substances.

Gael CochraneGael has been working as a trainer and outreach worker with Crew since May 2011. Prior to this, for 8 years, she worked as a Development Worker and National Training Officer with Fast Forward, a national health promoting agency working mainly in the field of substance use education. As Development Worker at Fast Forward, Gael worked with young people, many of whom were taking substances. She delivered drug education, from a harm reduction perspective, and developed resources. As National Training Officer, Gael was responsible for designing and delivering training on all substances including alcohol, cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine, heroin and New Psychoactive Substances (NPS). She has delivered training in drug and alcohol issues and information to professionals from a variety of fields.

Gael was employed by the Edinburgh Drug and Alcohol Partnership as a Substance Misuse Development Worker within the Children and Families department. This role included review and monitoring of current drug trends and planning training for professionals to increase their skills in supporting people who use illicit substances. In addition, she was responsible for the planning and development of support services for children, young people and families affected by problematic drug use which included working in collaboration with people in treatment and recovery.

Gael worked for Cyrenians, managing the Visitors’ Centre at HMP Addiewell. Cyrenians support the families of prisoners, by giving support, advice and information, to mitigate the effects of imprisonment on children and families. Many of the families and their convicted relatives experience issues with substance use. Gael has also been involved in Crew’s outreach work providing crisis intervention and welfare services at events and festivals, which informs her about current trends, street prices and patterns of use. Gael is employed by Community Justice Scotland as a Learning, Development and Innovation Lead.

For many years she worked in the mental health field with people who had a dependency to alcohol and other drugs. This, coupled with her work with young people who were taking substances, has given her in-depth knowledge about new trends, patterns of drug use, dual diagnosis and other related issues.

Steve O'RaweSteve O’Rawe has an Honours Degree in Sociology from the University of Glasgow and a professional addictions qualification – the MSc in Alcohol and Drugs Studies from the University of the West of Scotland. He also has a Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He has a PhD in Scottish drug policy. Steve lectures part-time to undergraduates studying for degrees in Sociology, Psychology and Politics at the University of the West of Scotland.

He has worked in the field of addictions, drugs and alcohol for 20 years, as a practitioner, lecturer and consultant, and has been providing expert witness services to Scottish Courts for 10 years. When working in the field, he worked with poly-drug users in a range of settings, in Glasgow, Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway. He worked as an Addictions Officer for Ayrshire Criminal Justice Services Partnership, where he supervised social workers on the Drug Treatment and Testing Order scheme, providing an insight into the working practices of the Justice system and its dealings with drug using offenders. 

Steve has his own training and consultancy business with a special interest in helping companies develop workplace Substance Misuse Policies. He delivers training to companies on Alcohol and Drug Awareness, Health and Safety Issues, Drug/Alcohol Testing and Progressive Disciplinary Procedures and is a founding member of the Scottish Drug Policy Conversation.

Until recently, Steve set up and supervised Postgraduate Alcohol and Drug Studies student practice placements, again for the University of the West of Scotland. This provided him with invaluable knowledge of what is current practice in the addictions field, as it involved initiating and maintaining good working links with a wide range of providers of alcohol and/or drug treatment services.

He continues to maintain contact with people who use drugs, and drug and alcohol specialists from his previous work at the Centre for Alcohol and Drugs Studies, now part of the School of Culture, Media and Society at the University of the West of Scotland. Steve also has many contacts who are currently using drugs, who can often provide the most accurate and up to date information on current trends in drug use, prices and availability.

Alexander-JohnstoneAlex is a qualified academic with a Master of Science degree in Alcohol and Drug Studies gained in 2007. His academic research has been published evidencing his expertise within the areas of substitute drug maintenance with people who take drugs, especially Class A drugs.

Since 2006 he has worked as an Associate Lecturer in Paisley University. From 2008 he has been working within the Drug and Alcohol Research Team, as an Associate Lecturer at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS). Alex delivers lectures to a variety of key professionals such as:

  • addiction, health and social care workers;
  • social workers;
  • police and prison staff and
  • mental health nurses.

Alex also mentors work placements with post graduate students within Criminal Justice Social Work. He previously worked in the Scottish Prison Service in the role of Addiction and Programmes Officer. During that time, he was involved with all aspects of intelligence, enforcement, custody, treatment and education. In 2007, he moved to the Criminal Justice Social Work Department, West Dunbartonshire, as a cognitive based group worker where he presently works. In 2010, he became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. In 2012, he was on the SQA (Scottish Qualification Awards) design team for writing the Professional Development Award (PDA) in Brief Interventions for Substance Misuse. In 2013, Alex fulfilled the requirements for study at PhD level. Alex presently teaches at further education colleges in Scotland on Health and Social Care and Substance Misuse. In 2016, he gained his Certificate in the Management of Drug Misuse Part 1 of the Royal College of General Practitioners. He has 26 years’ substantive criminal justice experience. Unlike many academics, Alex consistently works daily with many people who are currently dependent on drugs or alcohol.  In 2013, he joined the Crew Expert Witness team.

Anna RossAnna is an Expert Witness for Crew and has worked for more than 20 years in a professional and voluntary capacity with people who take drugs.

Anna has a long history with Crew, first as an outreach worker at large music events across Scotland supporting people who take drugs through Crew’s information services for six years, and then in the running of Crew through the Board of Directors for five years.  She has undergone training with Crew on the role and duties of an Expert Witness in the criminal justice sector in Scotland. This training involves seminars with lawyers, moot court sessions, practice report writing and a period of supervised report writing. Working with other expert witnesses, Anna receives regular updates and information regarding drug trends, patterns of use and other pertinent information relevant to her role as an Expert Witness in this field.

Over the past 20 years, Anna has worked with people who take drugs in a professional capacity through frontline organisations such as Streetwork, Link Living and Women’s Aid. This work involved regular contact with people who take drugs recreationally and habitually, giving her in-depth knowledge into the drug using community. She has provided drug awareness and harm reduction workshops through her voluntary work and professional work.

Anna completed her LLB at Edinburgh University and followed it with a Dip LP and an MSc in Alcohol and Drug Research. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh where she is researching narratives within Scottish drug policy communities.

What our Expert Witness Clients have said

Whilst in favour of the charges:

your report has been helpful and instrumental in negotiations regarding value

Whilst the Expert was not in favour of the charge of intent to supply and concluded it undetermined after considering the evidence presented:

client pled guilty to an amended charge to reflect simple possession and no further action was taken by the court

Whilst in favour of the charges:

we managed to use the report to get a more realistic valuation of the drug which in turn mitigated the client’s sentence

When asked to provide a report with short notice:

sterling work