Risk to justice feared as science labs close

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Three in four forensic scientists expect to see more miscarriages of justice following the closure of a service that has helped to crack some of Yorkshire’s most complex crimes.

The Forensic Science Service (FSS) is to close next month with the loss of at least 130 highly-skilled jobs from its laboratory in Wetherby.

Ministers decided to wind down the service because it was losing money, but more than two-thirds of scientists surveyed by New Scientist said moving the work to private or police laboratories would lead to more biased findings.

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

The Government revealed in December that all of the laboratory’s functions would be taken over by private firm LGC Forensics, with about 80 staff moving to Wakefield and the rest losing their jobs.

Steve Allen, managing director of the private forensics provider LGC Forensics, told the magazine: “We have exactly the same values, ethics and the same type of scientists (as the public sector).”

Steve Thomas, of the engineering and science union Prospect, said: “We share the concerns of those surveyed and we have expressed them on a number of occasions throughout this process.

“Ministers made a dogmatic decision that we feel will risk certain elements of the criminal justice system.”