Prospect backs MP's call for FSS closure u-turn

Prospect backs MP's call for FSS closure u-turn

Prospect has backed a call by the chair of the Commons Science and Technology Committee, Andrew Miller MP, for the Prime Minister to review the decision to close the Forensic Science Service.

Deputy General Secretary Mike Clancy said: “As the union representing the majority of the 1,000 employees still working in FSS we fully back the call by Andrew Miller for the Prime Minister to review the closure decision.

“As he stated in his question to the Prime Minister, the financial arguments given as the basis for the closure decision have since proven to be flawed. If the Prime Minister was persuaded of the case for closure on the basis of out-of-date evidence we would urge him to review that decision before vital forensic skills are lost to the country forever. Our evidence shows that most skilled scientists leaving FSS do not return to the profession.”

When the FSS closure decision was announced in December 2010 the rationale given was that it was losing £2m a month. But this figure failed to take into account savings coming on-line following a transformation programme implemented by the previous government.

In April this year, the Home Affairs Select Committee took oral evidence from Home Office officials on managing cuts to the department’s budget. The committee highlighted that winding up the FSS would cost £125m in 2010-11, contrasted with the approximately £24 million costs of keeping it running (based on the quoted losses of £2 million a month).

While the head of finance at the Home Office, ruled out keeping the service running on the grounds that ‘the company would be trading insolvently,’ the union believes greater transparency over the figures, and the inclusion of the savings being made, would have resulted in different recommendations for the service’s future.

In its concluding recommendations, the Science and Technology Committee’s report into the closure plans found that:

“The government did not consider enough evidence in its decision-making. The impacts on research and development, on the capacity of private providers to absorb the FSS's market share, on the future of the archives and on the wider impacts to the criminal justice system appear to have been hastily overlooked in favour of the financial bottom line. Examining the possible impacts of a decision after the decision has been made contradicts the concept of evidence informing policy.”