MPs warned of justice risks ahead of science service funding vote

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An eleventh-hour appeal has been made to politicians to vote against Government plans to axe funding for the Forensic Science Service (FSS), which has helped solve some of Yorkshire’s most notorious crimes.

The FSS is scheduled to close at the end of March, and professionals’ union Prospect has urged MPs to speak out for forensic scientists’ jobs when they meet on Monday to debate a Treasury report on its winding-down.

More than 200 high-skilled workers are employed at an FSS laboratory in Wetherby, and about 130 are expected to lose their jobs when its services are taken on by a private firm, LGC Forensics.

Scientists at the laboratory have uncovered crucial evidence in cases such as the abduction of Dewsbury schoolgirl Shannon Matthews and the murder of Lesley Molseed, whose body was found on moorland near Ripponden in 1975.

Prospect negotiator Steve Thomas, who has led the campaign to save the FSS on behalf of 1,800 members, said: “A Government defeat would be highly embarrassing for Ministers on the eve of the shutdown of FSS. The decision to close a universally respected service at a cost of more than £125m is a disaster in the making for the criminal justice system.

“This is a last opportunity to warn of the terrible mistake the Government is making by allowing its own prejudices against public sector provision to override common sense and hard evidence.”

A survey of forensic scientists released earlier this month revealed that three in four expected to see more miscarriages of justice after FSS closes.