DNA pioneer slams forensic service closure

LUTON DNA pioneer Sir Alec Jeffreys has criticised the decision by the government to close the Forensic Science Service.

In a letter to The Times, the former Luton Grammar School pupil said he was concerned the decision had been made rashly and would impact upon the success of criminal investigations in the UK.

He was among 33 leading scientists who signed the letter following the announcement by the Home Office that the service would close in March 2012, with 1,600 jobs expected to be lost.

The service analyses evidence from crime scenes, helping bring cases to court, and deals with more than 120,000 cases a year.

But the government says the service is losing £2 million a month and that the plan to break it up will not have a negative impact on criminal investigations.

In 1985 Sir Alec pioneered DNA fingerprinting, the technique that enables detectives to link suspects to crimes through DNA evidence.

In their letter the scientists argued that without the Forensic Science Service, DNA fingerprinting would not have become the universally-used analysis tool it is today.

They wrote: “These advances paved the way for the introduction of national DNA databases to routinely match crime-scene material to suspects with previous convictions. The FSS has truly been a leader in European forensic practice.”

Sir Alec added: “I would love to know a little bit more about the thinking, if indeed any thinking at all went into this bizarre decision, and whether that thinking involved any understanding whatsoever about the nature of forensic science and its importance in delivering justice.”