FSS and courts are victims of cuts

Wednesday, 29 December, 2010

The Forensic Science Service is to close and dozens of towns across England and Wales will lose their magistrates' courts as part of the latest round of cuts announced by the Government.

The FSS, which employs 1,600 people and carries out more than 60 per cent of police forensic work, will close by 2012 and its work will be contracted out to the private sector. Its evidence was key to the arrest of serial killer Steve Wright and in the case of the missing
girl Shannon Matthews.

Prospect, the union that represents more than 1,000 forensic scientists and other professionals within FSS, said the decision will make a mockery of the criminal justice system by denuding it of impartial, independent advice. "Cost will now determine justice in the UK," said Mike Clancy, Deputy General Secretary of Prospect. "The government is putting its faith in an untested market to deliver forensic science at a time when it has never been more important to the detection of crime. Its actions will destroy a world-class body that is the envy of every police force in the world, in the name of saving a few million pounds.

"What is even stranger is that the decision is directly at odds with the government's stated aim of encouraging public bodies to share services. Instead, it will create a complex market where police forces will have to develop their own capacity for analysis and support in forensics, multiplying duplication across the board."

The Crime Reduction minister, James Brokenshire, said the FSS had faced increased private-sector competition for police contracts and this was enabling forces to achieve greater efficiency. "They're seeing better turnaround in terms of the way in which forensics are being processed," he said. The FSS currently operates at an estimated loss of £2 million each month.

Return to news menu