Prospect represented the majority of the 1,800 staff working for Forensic Science Service at the time the closure was announced in December 2010. The union warned of the negative impact on both the criminal justice system and forensic science in the UK if work transferred to private firms and in-house police labs. In the worst cases, it said, there would be miscarriages of justice, and crimes would go unsolved.
Mike Clancy, Prospect general secretary, said: “If the government had listened to the concerns of its own scientists at the time, then it would not be in the position of having to perform this hugely embarrassing U-turn. It truly beggars belief.
“Unfortunately this decision has come far too late for many of our members. It gives me no pleasure whatsoever to say that everything we warned ministers about – on behalf of our members – has come to pass and confidence in forensic science has been undermined.
“We can only hope that government learns from its mistakes and starts to listen to its specialists in the civil service. Prospect and its members must be involved in rebuilding a national forensic science service.”
The government’s U-turn follows a report last year from spending watchdog the National Audit Office, which warned that standards were deteriorating, with police increasingly relying on unregulated experts.
In its new plan, the Home Office concedes that forensic science has become fragmented and does not provide value for money in some areas.
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