Prospect backs calls for transparency over FSS

Prospect backs calls for transparency over FSS

The union representing staff in the Forensic Science Service (FSS) has backed the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee’s call for greater transparency in the assessment of FSS’s success as a government-owned company (GovCo).

On behalf of over 1,300 scientists and other specialist staff in FSS, Prospect has echoed concerns in today’s (Tuesday) committee report that the government will define the criteria to judge the FSS GovCo as well as assessing whether those criteria have been met.

Prospect General Secretary Paul Noon said: "As the sole shareholder the government’s influence over FSS’s transition and ability to operate successfully as a GovCo over the next two-years cannot be underestimated.

"As a result our members believe the process must be as open and transparent as possible and that the criteria used to judge FSS as a GovCo, or any need to move to a privatised forensic science service, should be made public.

"We have spent two years campaigning against privatisation because we feared that a public private partnership would threaten the impartiality of the service. We welcomed the announcement that FSS would remain in the public sector and the stability that came with assurances that it would have at least two years to prove itself.

"But the FSS GovCo must be given a real opportunity to succeed and not merely be seen as a staging post to privatisation. We would want to see very strong evidence that it was failing before any move to push forward with a PPP."

The government announced plans to set up FSS as a public-private partnership in July last year with between 51-75% of shares being sold to a private sector investor.

But the sell-off, which would have left Britain with the only privatised forensic science service in the world, was widely condemned by FSS staff, MPs from across the political spectrum, police officers and other key stakeholders in the justice system.