New forensic science service planned

Forensic officer in Manchester Image copyright AFP

A new forensic and biometrics service is planned by the Home Office, four years after it controversially abolished its predecessor.

Ministers say there will be a "national approach" to forensic science in criminal cases in England and Wales.

The Forensic Science Service, a government-owned company, was shut down in 2012, after the government said it lost £2m each month.

But in 2015, the National Audit Office warned standards were slipping.

It said forensic science provision was under threat because police were increasingly relying on unregulated experts to examine samples from suspects and crime scenes.

The spending watchdog's report came after work was transferred to in-house police labs and private firms.

Senior politicians, scientists and lawyers had warned in 2012 that closing the forensic science archive would cause miscarriages of justice and stop police solving crimes, as police forces had to create individual storage systems.

Smart phone analysis

In its plan, the Home Office acknowledged forensic science provision had become fragmented.

Digital analysis of computers and smart-phones was being conducted in an "ad hoc manner" which did not provide value for money, it said.

Ministers said they were supporting a police review of whether there should be a "joint Forensic and Biometric Service" to achieve economies of scale, increased capability and resilience.

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