Huntingdon science jobs at risk as Forensic Science Services to close

NEARLY 200 job losses are expected after the shock closure of Huntingdon’s Forensic Science Service (FSS).

NEARLY 200 job losses are expected after the shock closure of Huntingdon’s Forensic Science Service (FSS).

The award-winning Hinchingbrooke Park laboratories will shut after Ministers announced the organisation, which helps police and Government agencies catch and prosecute criminals with forensic evidence, was in “serious financial difficulty”.

Crime Reduction Minister James Brokenshire said the service, which provided key evidence in the arrest of Ipswich murderer Steve Wright and the kidnap of Shannon Matthews, faced losses of about �2million a month and could run out of money in January.

In a written statement to MPs, he said: “The police have advised us that their spend on external forensic suppliers will continue to fall over the next few years as forces seek to maximise efficiencies in this area.

“We have therefore decided to support the wind-down of the FSS, transferring or selling off as much of its operations as possible.”

The process will take place over the next 12 to 15 months.

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The FSS, which is the leading supplier of forensic analytical services to the 43 police forces, has been reducing its costs and head count over the last 18 months, but still employs 190 people in Huntingdon. Nationally, 1,300 scientists are involved with 120,000 cases a year.

However, the reduction in police budgets, together with more forces taking forensic work in-house, means less work and less income for the FSS.

Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly pledged to fight for the service to continue.

“I will be seeking clarification on how this will affect the Huntingdon site and will be looking to ensure there is appropriate support for staff,” Mr Djanogly added.

He also said he wants to ensure the “continuity of forensic capacity is not adversely affected during this transition” and added: “I do hope the service can continue in some form, perhaps under different ownership.

“I will be writing to the Home Office to look into this.”

Mr Djanogly put the blame for the closure at Labour’s door, adding: “In many ways to closure of this facility is an indictment on the financial ineptitude of the last Government.”

But Mike Clancy, deputy general secretary of the Prospect union, which has more than 100 members at the Huntingdon site, said the closure would be a “body blow to criminal justice”.

“Cost will now determine justice in the UK,” he said.

“The Government is putting its faith in an untested market to deliver forensic science at a time when it has never been more important to the detection of crime.

“Its actions will destroy a world-class body that is the envy of every police force in the world, in the name of saving a few million pounds.”