FSS staff dismayed at lab closures rubber stamp

FSS staff dismayed at lab closures rubber stamp

Forensic scientists and other professionals in the Forensic Science Service reacted with dismay after management revealed it intends to push through plans to close down laboratories in Chorley (Lancashire), Priory House (Birmingham) and Chepstow (Gwent), with the loss of hundreds of jobs.

Prospect, the union representing 1,300 FSS staff, called the news a travesty that will decimate the ability of the service to analyse current levels of criminal evidence and leave expanses of England and Wales without public sector forensic cover.

FSS branch secretary Helen Kenny, said: “Our members are deeply disappointed by this decision and that the union’s alternative case, to retain seven sites but with a trimmed headcount, has been dismissed. The cuts are driven by claims that the workload has diminished, which we don’t accept – no-one has seen the crime rate go down.”

Kenny added that today’s announcement contained glimmers of good news as some specialist teams in London and Huntington will stay at those sites as “these are highly trained people whose skills are not easily transferable.”

However, she said, news that the number of posts management are looking to axe have dropped by 100 from original estimates of 800 was little reason to cheer, since “ faced with the prospect of having to reapply for their jobs, over 50 staff have left since the consultation process began in June.”

Mike Sparham, Prospect negotiator for FSS staff said: “They face an upsetting and uncertain future as all operational staff will have to apply for a job under the new organisational structure. Many remain fearful that these proposals are less concerned with maintaining FSS as the leading forensic science provider and more about making it attractive for a future sell-off.”