Privatisation will risk new ‘gun crime’ database, Prospect warns

Privatisation will risk new ‘gun crime’ database, Prospect warns

Prospect has welcomed the launch of the Forensic Science Service’s (FSS) new ‘gun crime’ database. But it questioned whether the full potential of the new technology will be accessible to the police if Home Secretary David Blunkett continues to push through plans to privatise FSS.

On behalf of 1,300 forensic scientists in the service, Prospect negotiator Mike Sparham said: "The creation of the National Firearms Forensic Intelligence Database provides an excellent tool in the vital fight against gun crime in the UK, but is it wise that such a sensitive resource could end up in the hands of the private sector?

"The threat of privatisation raises serious concerns over whether a profit driven organisation would have the funding to undertake such cutting-edge research when trying to meet the competing demands of shareholders.

"Our members fear that a privatised FSS would be forced to put up charges, leaving the public to foot the bill, either because the police will aim to pass on the increased charges through council tax, or reduce the number of investigations undertaken to keep rising costs down."

The government announced plans to set up the Forensic Science Service as a ‘public-private partnership’ in July. Within the next 18 months, FSS, now a trading fund, will be converted into a government-owned plc. Between 51-75 per cent of shares will then be sold to a private sector ‘partner.’