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Technical Skills For Forensic Science

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It is recorded in history that the first police laboratory to open in the United Kingdom was the Metropolitan Police Laboratory that opened in 1935 at Hendon, Barnet. This laboratory only had a small number of personnel working there at six, a possible reasoning for this would be that Forensic Science was a new area of advanced science which had not been discovered back in that time era. The Home Office opened several laboratories across England and Wales under the name of the Home Office Forensic Science Service after the success of the first laboratory and increasing demand not only England and Wales but in addition a very few European countries. ([1] Walls HJ 1976) This is mainly because the first official forensic science laboratory was formed by the French police department and opened in 1910 at Lyon, France.

[3] The Government of the United Kingdom announced the closure of the service in December 2010, claiming that the service was stacking up monthly losses of up to £2 million. It closed on the 31st March 2012. Collections of case files and casework samples such as microscope slides, fibre samples and DNA samples from older cases were kept for future investigation and analysis if needed. The service’s reputation was heavily questioned following its failure to recover blood stains from a shoe in the murder of Damilola Taylor. It became exposed to further scrutiny when the service failed to use highly advanced and more modern techniques for extracting DNA samples in cases between 2000 and 2005. This led the Association of Chief Police Officers to advise and instruct all police forces in England and Wales to review cases where samples had failed to give a DNA profile, and this resulted in uncertainty and doubt in the Forensic Science Service. ([3] Forensic Science Labs. 2016)

According to the [4] Law Gazette blog article by Alistair Logan, He states ‘A survey of forensic scientists carried out by the New Scientist found that 78% of them thought that miscarriages of justice will increase. 70% felt that there will be a reduction in the reliability of the interpretation of evidence; 65% of them felt that it would make it harder for defence teams to challenge the interpretation of evidence and a similar number felt that there will be a decrease of straightforwardness by Forensic Scientists employed by private Forensic Science providers’. I believe that the quote and statistics suggest that before the closure of the Forensic Science service, most Forensic Scientists believed that the closure of the service would negatively impact the process of criminal investigations. The report also states that due to the closure of the service in, the organisation of evidence in cases from 2010 would have been extremely messy and it would have caused a lot of complications which resulted in serial offenders escaping detection. This suggests that Forensic Scientists believed that there would be an increase of crime after the closure of the service because of this issue. I believe that this would have had a negative effect on society because it would lead to more reoffences and in result, criminal investigations. ([4] Logan. A 22nd August 2012)

Total Forensic provision was estimating to cost police services in England and Wales before the closure around £400 million every year. Spending on Forensic Science was estimated to around 20% of each Force’s scientific and technological spend for each police force. 52% of police force’s Forensic spend was on services provided in house by police forces which consisted of fingerprinting and Scenes of Crime Officers. ([5] Forensic Science on Trial 2004-05)

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There were several smaller companies engaged in analytical and testing work, looking at the graph only a small percentage of services was provided by individual Forensic practitioners before the closure. The Forensic Science Service accounted for around 85% of the external Forensic services market, but the market share had been declining before the closure of the service in 2012. I believe that due to the impact of the police reducing the cost of Forensic Science services to their forces, this led to a strong likelihood that the costs ended up rising for less able consumers. This would also have led to the fact that in house police laboratories would not have been available to the defence due to the closure of the service in 2012. This source from the House of Commons suggests that the reduction of Forensic Science market providers led to the eventual closure of the service and police forces have not had the same services ever since due to them wanting to reduce costing from services back in 2004.

A news article from the Independent written by Paul Peachey in 2015 explains the risk of privatisation in Forensic services. This article talks about the impact from the Forensic Science Service closure and contains expert opinion. It states ‘While the size of the private sector Forensics market has declined, the police’s own in house laboratory work has increased from 113 million pounds in 2012-13 to 122 million pounds. Only one force has entirely obtained its Forensic Science work, the report found. In the face of budget cuts, the NAO discovered that police were designing their requests for Forensic work rather than ordering a range of tests. Professor Peter Gill, the pioneer of mass genetic profiling, said that the shift to in house DNA testing would be disastrous with Forensic Scientists under pressure to come up with results to secure convictions. Forensic Science is now becoming police controlled, Professor Gill told The Independent. It’s difficult enough when you’re not working for the police; you’re put under a lot of pressure to report what the police want you to report’ ([6] Peachey. P 2015). This suggests to us that Forensic Scientists in England and Wales believed putting Forensic Science in the hands of police forces was a negative consequence because of the closure of the service because they did not have the advanced knowledge than the Forensic Scientists who worked in the service before its closure.

It Is recorded that over 1600 people were made redundant because of the closure with many having to walk away from their expertise in Forensic Science. While it is an impact from the closure of the service, it affected many lives with some leaving the service with very healthy redundancy packages. However, to other sectors I believe it really did not matter. The people made redundant not working would not have been paying taxes as they come out automatically out of their wage slip so the taxpayer will be making less money. 1600 people is a small amount compared to the whole population so I believe it would not of had a big impact on the taxpayer. To the criminal justice system, it does not really matter because Law personnel would not be involved with the service and the analytical side of an investigation. Victims of crime will still be able to report a crime and get justice because evidence will always exist, and the closure of the service did not affect victims’ rights or chain of custody of evidence. This means that the closure of the service did not impact some sectors of criminal investigation.

Another impact since the closure of the service is that more fresh University graduates in England and Wales had started to get employed more in the Forensic Science Sector. I believe that this is both a positive and negative effect of the closure of the service. While it did create more job vacancies to provide experience and opportunity for fresh graduates, this meant that young, naïve and unexperienced individuals were walking into advanced and important roles in Forensic Science which they would have had to acquire more training from the employer. This also links with the effect of older and experienced Forensic Scientists walking away from the service after its closure whose expertise would not be yet present in newly fresh University graduates. Overall, I believe that this is a negative effect of the closure of the Forensic Science Service.

In the [7] Forensic Science Strategy report, it talks about how the Government wanted a long term strategy after the closure for research in Forensic Science. In this case for biometrics as the Government believes it is ‘fast changing’ and ‘provides opportunities for better secure identity verification, better public services, improved public protection and the ability to identify and stop criminals’. This suggests that even after the closure of the service, research around Forensic Science carried on as technology is constantly getting developed. However, without the service and the closure of many Forensic laboratories I believe research was impacted by restrictions to lack of available Forensic Scientists and laboratories. It goes on to state ‘. The Government is developing two separate Forensic and Biometric strategies and remains determined to publish both strategies by the end of 2015’. This is also evidence that the Government was continuing to invest in Forensic Science research despite the closure of the service. Overall, I believe research was impacted negatively by the closure because of the many Forensic Scientists becoming redundant and walking away with their expertness. ([7] Forensic Science Strategy 2016-17)

References Used

  1. Walls HJ: The Forensic Science Service in Great Britain: A short history; J Forensic Sci Soc 16:273; 1976.
  2. Authority of the House of Commons (2011) The Forensic Science Service, London: The Stationary Office Limited.
  3. Forensic Science Labs. Derelict Places documenting decay. 25th September (2016). Accessed: 12 March 2020. Available at:
  4. Logan, A. 22nd August 2012. Law. . The Destruction of the Forensic Science Service. [Online]. Accessed: 6th April 2020. Available at:
  5. House of Commons Science and Technology Committee: Forensic Science on Trial (seventh report of session 2004-05 HC 96-1); [Online] Accessed: 8th April 2020. Available at:
  6. Peachey, P., 2015. Privatisation of forensic services 'threat to justice' and putting the work in police hands would be 'disastrous,' warn experts. The Independent, [online] p.A single page. Accessed 9th April 2020. Available at:
  7. House of Commons Science and Technology Committee: Forensic Science Strategy (Fourth report of session 2016-17); [Online] Accessed: 10th April 2020. Available at:
  8. The Government Response to the Second Report from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee Session 2013-14 HC 610: Forensic Science; November 2013; [Online] Accessed 10th April 2020. Available at:
  9. BBC News: New Forensic Science Service Planned; [Online] Accessed 10th April 2020. Available at:
  10. The Department of Justice: About Forensic Science Northern Ireland; [Online] Accessed 11th April 2020. Available at:
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Technical Skills For Forensic Science. (2021, September 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 2, 2023, from
“Technical Skills For Forensic Science.” Edubirdie, 16 Sept. 2021,
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