Privatisation comment a ‘slur’ on forensic scientists, says Prospect


Privatisation comment a ‘slur’ on forensic scientists, says Prospect

The Common’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is totally wrong to suggest the main privatisation concern for staff in the Forensic Science Service is their future pension arrangements, the union representing 1,300 FSS scientists has said.

In response to today’s (Tuesday’s) report from the committee, Prospect negotiator Mike Sparham said: “I reject entirely the comment that the main concern of staff is their future pension arrangements. This is a slur on the professionalism they bring to the work they do. From our meetings with members in each of the seven laboratories it is clear their primary concern is the future of the service.

“They believe an organisation in which profit would come first and public service second would not operate in the interests of the criminal justice system. They are fiercely proud of the work they do which helps the guilty to be caught and the innocent to remain free.”

However, Prospect backs the committee’s recommendation that further analysis should be undertaken of the different options for the future status of the agency.

“The case for privatisation through a public private partnership has not been made,” said Sparham. “We agree resources and investment are needed to improve the service, but the agency currently meets the majority of its targets and made a profit for the taxpayer last year of £10m.

“The investment needed can be raised without privatising the Forensic Science Service. That can only create a profit-driven organisation with higher charges, leading to a reduction in work referred for analysis and ultimately in criminals going free.”

The government announced plans to set up the Forensic Science Service as a PPP in July last year. Within the next 18 months, FSS, now a trading fund, will be converted into a government-owned plc. Between 51-75 per cent of shares will then be sold to a private sector partner.

Prospect is calling on the government to think again, pointing to FSS’s success as a public service and as an integral part of the criminal justice system. There is no other privatised Forensic Science Service in the world.