FSS closure risks UK’s international research standing

FSS closure risks UK’s international research standing

One of the scientists behind the development of DNA fingerprinting has warned that the UK will lose its international ranking for forensic science research if the government presses ahead with plans to close the Forensic Science Service, Research Fortnight has reported.

The comments come as another magazine - Science Watch - revealed a list of the world's top 25 cited forensic research institutions, showing FSS is the only ranked UK lab, coming fifth.

The data also shows that Professor Peter Gill – a former principal research scientist at FSS and who with Sir Alec Jeffreys developed  DNA fingerprinting – has the fourth highest number of citations per paper in the world.

But in an interview with Research Fortnight Gill, who is now based at the University of Oslo, said the data was telling given that after the closure of FSS, private providers or universities will be expected to fill the research gap.

Gill said: "The UK is in great danger over these foolish actions and they're going to fall way behind the rest of the world anyhow - [they] won't be using the most up-to-date methods."

It could result in miscarriages of justice, he said, adding that commercial providers would not have the funding for research and research councils do not "see it as part of their remit."

His comments came as Prospect warned advanced methods of detection used by criminal investigators could fall by the wayside in the wake of FSS' closure.

Investigations by the union revealed that in addition to research and cold case archives, no provision has been made to replicate specialist work in areas such as gunshot residue and fire investigation in the private sector.

  • 04 Aug 2011