Forensic rethink vital or justice will be in peril: Prospect

Forensic rethink vital or justice will be in peril: Prospect

The government is putting criminal justice in peril and should rethink its plans to wind-up the Forensic Science Service, Prospect has warned.

The comments come as a Common’s Science Select Committee report into the proposed closure of FSS was published which, says Prospect, shows its members’ fears are coming home to roost.

On behalf of 1,200 FSS staff Prospect negotiator Steve Thomas said: “This report illustrates that the plans to close FSS were half-baked at best and compound the inadequacies in decision-making which placed the GovCo in financial difficulty in the first place.

“While backing the findings – that the government failed to consult or give enough consideration to the impact on the criminal justice system, the ability of private providers to absorb FSS’ market share or future forensic research and development – we would go further than calling for an extended deadline and urge the government to go back to the drawing board.”

Thomas said the union welcomed the committee’s recommendation that further police in-sourcing of forensic provision be halted, at the very least until a true picture of the financial implications could be provided.

“The report criticises the government’s complacency towards police forensic expenditure. But there has been a lack of transparency behind the decision since day one.

“We were told it was because FSS was losing £2m a month – a figure some argue is a price worth paying for impartial world-renown scientific expertise. But, as this report states, that figure did not tell the whole story and failed to take into account savings coming on-line that would have put FSS in a more stable financial position.

“Neither have any figures been made available to show the impact of in-sourcing on police forces across the UK already struggling to meet budget reductions.

“Even if you support the government’s aspiration for a fully competitive market to drive down costs, today’s report reinforces our warnings that this is not the reality. Misguided faith in the market is risking the fairness and impartiality at the heart of the legal system, which can only bring about the potential for serious miscarriages of justice.”