Anger as forensic closure costs rise to £100 million

Anger as forensic closure costs rise to £100 million

Prospect has accused the Government of the “economics of the madhouse” for its admission that the cost of closing the Forensic Science Service has risen to at least £100 million.

The union, which represents the 1,000 staff still working in the FSS, was commenting on the Government response to a highly critical report on the FSS from the Commons Science and Technology Committee in July.

The committee had criticised the Government’s claim, made when it announced the closure of FSS in December 2010, that the service was losing £2 million a month. In evidence to the committee earlier this year, the Government put the cost of closure at £70m, an estimate that its response today raised to £100million. Further costs will be incurred in 2012-13 on other operational consequences of closure.

Prospect negotiator Steve Thomas said: “It is a scandal that the cost of this exercise is now put at more than 40% higher than the Government admitted just a few months ago. By the end of the process it will be still higher.

“This is the economics of the madhouse. Closing the FSS was a bad decision in the first place and this is a profligate and unnecessary waste of money, incurred solely for closing down a service that was universally respected and provided an excellent service to the taxpayer.”

Thomas also took the Government’s response to task for:

  • failing to provide evidence that the private sector would be able to take on the full range of FSS’ duties after it is shut down
  • failing to provide evidence that it had consulted any part of the forensics industry before taking the closure decision
  • failing to make any commitment to provide the Forensic Science Regulator with statutory powers, necessary to ensure that quality standards are maintained in the future provision of forensic services by the police and the private sector.
Prospect is seeking an urgent meeting with the Home Office Minister, James Brokenshire, over the Government’s response.

Three FSS laboratories at Chorley, Chepstow and Priory House, Birmingham, have already closed down. Laboratories at Wetherby, Lambeth, Huntingdon and Trident Court, Birmingham, are winding down and will close by next April.