Forensic science R&D review welcome but late


Forensic science R&D review welcome but late

The union for staff in the Forensic Science Service (FSS) has welcomed the announcement that the government is to review forensic science research and development, but questioned the timing of the review.

In response to the statement from James Brokenshire, minister for crime prevention, Prospect negotiator Steve Thomas said:

“As scientists our members may question the methodology of this approach given that reviews normally inform an outcome but in this case follow the announced closure of FSS.

“But we are hopeful that the government will use this opportunity to re-think the flawed closure plan rather than abandon a world-renown service to the vagaries of an unstable and shrinking marketplace.

"It cannot expect private sector providers to maintain FSS’ research activities with little if any guaranteed financial return.”

FSS’ research and development function is one of the world’s largest dedicated forensic research facilities. Areas of particular strength include interpretation of complex forensic data, expert system development and biochemical analysis.

Said Thomas: “But the skills are only part of the success story. They are complemented by the service’s experience of taking the science from the lab into the criminal justice process – from crime scene to courtroom.”

News of the announcement comes as Birmingham, Selly Oak MP Stephen McCabe has set down an Early Day Motion expressing deep concerns over the plans to close FSS.

EDM 1353 congratulates FSS staff for their roles in cases such as the Soham murders and the 7/7 terrorist attacks, but expresses concern that the break-up and “transfer of responsibilities, specialised skills, intellectual property and employees of the FSS will damage the UK's leading role in forensic science research and development”.

The motion cites opposition to the closure from campaigners such as Sara Payne and scientific experts like Sir Alec Jeffreys and calls on the government to reverse the decision to close this world-renowned organisation.