Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant has expressed his concern over plans to wind down the Forensic Science Service.
The work of the Birmingham-based FSS is due to transfer into the private sector, with reports the service in its current guise is losing £2million a month.
However, Mr Fabricant has now written to the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, and the Home Office Minister, James Brokenshire, following a meeting he had with senior officials and lawyers living in his constituency, some of whom work for the closure-threatened service.
And the Conservative MP has admitted he is “concerned” by the potential loss of world-leading research that closure could bring.
Mr Fabricant explained:
“The Government plans to wind down the national Forensic Science Service, transferring or selling off as much of its operations as possible. But I am now very concerned about the future of its research and development capability in which it leads the world and the future of its DNA database.
“While the Government has said it will work with FSS management and staff, the Association of Chief Police Officers, and other suppliers to ensure an orderly transition, the Government’s firm ambition is that there will be no continuing state interest in a forensics provider by March 2012. FSS was set up as a Government owned company with an £18million loan back in December 2005 under the last Labour administration. The company has met interest payments on this loan, but cannot afford to repay the principal amount borrowed. The previous government supported the company with a further £50 million grant from early 2009 to restructure the business. Despite this intervention and the commitment of the current management team, the current challenging forensics market has put the FSS back into serious financial difficulty. FSS is currently making operating losses of around £2 million per month. Clearly the current situation cannot be maintained.
“However, while I am confident that there are many private and profitable companies which can undertake DNA and other forensic analysis for police forces in the UK, I am very concerned that the FSS research and development work which leads the world will be lost to this country. I have asked both the Attorney General and the Home Office Minister to think again about how the R&D capability can be maintained in this country and our lead not be lost to the United States or elsewhere. Clearly, small forensic analysis firms will not be able to undertake futuristic research work or adequately maintain the national database which is now languishing in a department of the Home Office. It is a shame that institutions like Birmingham University have not shown a greater interest in developing this work.”
The decision to close the FSS has already met with anger from unions, with Prospect deputy general secretary Mike Clancy claiming the decision would mean that “cost will now determine justice in the UK”.