Forensic Science Service. See the Government announcements. The FSS provides a considerable range of services.
It is claimed that the service is losing £2m per month and that it has become uncompetitive having lost business to other providers. The Police (ACPO) have said that their spend on external forensic suppliers will fall in the future and, in their statement, ACPO state that they are working in support of the Home Office on the wind down of the FSS.
The FSS is not by any means the sole supplier of forensic science services in the U.K. However, in a letter to The Times (28th December 2010) some 33 eminent scientists are urging the government to rethink the closure of the service. The scientists claim that the FSS has been in the forefront of important innovations such as DNA-typing which has been developed to a high degree of reliability. The scientists see the government move as
the result of a privatisation strategy in a limited market with few customers and the provision of state-of-the-art forensic science will be reduced. Research and innovation and attention to case-specific needs will all be affected adversely.
The Union - Prospect - (which represents members working with the FSS) is not surprisingly critical of the closure plan. However, it has to be said that their criticisms hold much force and answers from the government are, so far, lacking. See Prospect. Their concerns relate to impartiality of forensic evidence; excessive market pressure from the Police to cut costs; ability to deal promptly with major incidents etc.
Articles - see Telegraph 28th December 2010 and also BBC News.
There is a Forensic Science Regulator who is closely linked to the Home Office and the Regulator is advised by a Forensic Science Advisory Council (chaired by the regulator). Interestingly, there is no statutory basis for the Regulator or Council even though the establishment of the Council was one of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice which reported in 1993.
Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre
The Times ("Experts warn of crime-scene chaos" 28th December) states that the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre is to be merged into a new National Crime Agency and that Ministers have sought to silence critics of that plan. In October 2010 the head of the Centre resigned as a result of the government's plans - see BBC News.
Addendum - Links of Interest:
Forensic Science Advisory Council - Terms of Reference
Forensic Science - Manual of Regulation
Forensic Science Society
British Academy of Forensic Science
All about Forensic Science - a good site for the layman