Closing forensic science service 'a risk to justice'

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The Independent Online

The decision to close the Forensic Science Service was made without considering the far-reaching impact on the justice system, a damning parliamentary report has found.

"Examining the possible impacts of a decision after the decision has been made contradicts the concept of evidence-informing policy," said MPs on the Commons Science and Technology Committee.

In a series of stinging criticisms, the Government is accused of ignoring the impact on research and development and the future of forensic work, "in favour of the financial bottom line". The report calls for an end to the proliferation of unaccredited police forensic labs, as transferring work from the FSS to such laboratories was "highly undesirable" and posed "significant and unacceptable risks to criminal justice".

Last December, the Home Office announced its decision to close the FSS by March 2012. At the time, it was delivering nearly two-thirds of forensic services in England and Wales. The select committee launched an inquiry after international condemnation of the decision. The Home Office failed to find out whether the private sector was willing, or capable, of picking up the services, according to the report.

Andrew Miller, chairman of the committee, said: "The impact has not been adequately thought out. There are bits of the FSS, such as the national archive, which have no commercial value, but without which we will not be able to solve cold cases. The Government will break it up at our peril."

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