Forensic science cannot compromise on cost, warn MPs

05 March 2010

Forensic Science Northern Ireland (FSNI) needs a new laboratory and adequate funding if it is to deal with the demands of today and plan for the needs of the future, say MPs in a report published today

The report calls on the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) to ensure that the service - housed in the only forensic science laboratory in Northern Ireland - is given the financial support necessary to continue serving the Province, and warns "against any compromise of the quality of service simply for reasons of cost".

The Committee calls on the NIO to make sure new state-of-the-art premises are provided as soon as possible. FSNI has been housed in "temporary" accommodation at Carrickfergus since its Belfast offices were bombed in 1992.

The report also seeks streamlined civil service recruitment to help the service fill job vacancies quickly when highly skilled and specialist staff leave or when new investigation techniques demand it.

And it calls on judges in Northern Ireland to work with FSNI to learn more about what forensic science can and cannot do.

Northern Ireland Affairs Committee Chairman, Sir Patrick Cormack MP, said:

"Our visit to FSNI headquarters in October 2009 revealed to us the high-quality work carried out there. We commend the integrity and dedication of staff, who not only work to serve the justice system of Northern Ireland but to assist other forensic scientists across the world.

"FSNI works independently from the other justice agencies and it is this impartiality that renders it such a valued service.

"The staff have been working in unsuitable and inadequate premises for nearly 18 years. It is now essential that work on the new building is given the highest priority and completed as soon as is practically possible."

Image: iStockphoto

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