On Monday, the Commons will debate an Estimates Day report from the Treasury which will discontinue funding for the FSS, scheduled to close down at the end of March. This will provide a final opportunity for MPs to voice their concerns about the closure.
As part of the estimates debate, MPs will discuss last year’s report by the Commons science and technology committee on the closure of FSS. Committee chair Andrew Miller will make a statement on the report, which criticised the government’s inability to produce evidence that would justify the decision to close FSS and raised concerns at the transition to new arrangements for forensic science.
Prospect negotiator Steve Thomas, who has led the campaign to save the FSS on behalf of 1,800 members, welcomed the debate and called on any MP with concerns about the closure to attend, speak and call for a vote.
He said: “A government defeat would be highly embarrassing for ministers on the eve of the shutdown of FSS. The decision to close a universally respected service at a cost of more than £125 million is a disaster in the making for the criminal justice system.
“This is a last opportunity to warn of the terrible mistake the government is making by allowing its own prejudices against public sector provision to override common sense and hard evidence.”
Prospect is still negotiating to transfer the last group of 200 staff employed by FSS, at its Wetherby laboratory, West Yorkshire, to private sector company LGC, along with the contracts they are working on. FSS has so been unable to secure TUPE terms – which protect the conditions of employment of workers transferring to a new employer – for any FSS staff transferring to the private sector.