Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

Session 2002-2003

20 March 2003

Forensic Science Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee today published its Fifth Report on Forensic Science Northern Ireland (HC 204).

Commenting on publication, Committee Chairman, Michael Mates, MP said:

"The essence of a forensic science service is to provide a quality of service in which the justice system can have complete confidence.

Our inquiry revealed that FSNI has been in "temporary" accommodation on a site shared with the PSNI since  1993.   The delay in finding suitable new premises is unacceptable. 

The lack of suitable accommodation for FSNI is having an adverse affect on their operational capability.   It is vital that new suitable premises are found for FSNI as soon as  possible.

The problems faced by FSNI are further compounded by a lack of resources and being unable to respond to developments in the commercial world.

FSNI's move to Trading Fund status on 1 April 2004 will provide the ability to establish commercial partnerships which should address most of the issues concerning financial flexibility.   We are, however, concerned that this move will come too late to safeguard the provision of necessary forensic science services to the PSNI between now and then.

It is essential that prior to the move to Trading Fund status, the Government provide any temporary funding required by FSNI to ensure that they are able to fulfill their obligation to PSNI."