Labour slams FSS closure

MP warns FSS closure will make it harder to solve rape cases

Labour's Shadow Home Secretary has slammed the government’s handling of the closure of the Forensic Science Service and warned it will make it harder for the police to solve rape cases.

The comments from Yvette Cooper MP came in response to the publication of a report by the Inspectorate of Constabularies and the Crown Prosecution Service, which was highly critical of the handling of police rape investigations.

Cooper said: “The joint inspectorate’s report shows how important DNA evidence and forensics are for solving rape cases, and how they should be used more to improve conviction rates.

"Why then is the government going in the opposite direction, taking 17,000 rape suspects off the DNA database and closing the Forensic Science Service with no proper service in its place?

"The report shows how profiles on the DNA database can be a ‘very powerful tool’ to solve stranger rapes. Yet against the evidence from experts, the government is planning to remove DNA profiles of people arrested but not charged with rape from the database, even though the charge rate for rape is far lower than other offences, so serial offenders may be missed.”

Cooper added that the government’s bungled dismantlement of FSS means “police forces are losing established expertise in handling and analysing forensic evidence, even though this is critical to solving rape cases.

"Extremely important issues are raised in this report. There is clearly a large amount of work to be done by police forces to properly gather intelligence, record rape offences coherently and have a much better understanding of repeat and serial rapists.

"Rather than making it harder, and not easier, for the police to solve rape cases, the government should ditch their measures on DNA and forensic science and work with the police on the recommendations of this report."

The report comes a day after Prospect issued a plea to MPs to use the estimates debate scheduled that day for the Commons – a vehicle to discontinue funding for the FSS – as a final opportunity to voice their concerns about the closure.