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The collapse of Key Forensic Services (KFS) threatened to put more than 2,000 legal cases, which included the most serious offences such as rape and murder, in serious jeopardy.
However, after the Home Office reportedly refused to step in to save the private firm, police were forced to use millions of pounds from their budgets to prop up the company for an extra three months to allow open cases to be resolved.
KFS were previously responsible for DNA testing, firearms examinations and drug testing of suspects, as well as many other aspects of public forensic work.
The Conservative government privatised forensics services in 2012, and after the high profile collapse of private government contractor Carillion, and what appears to be an impending disaster at Capita, the collapse of KFS will surely stir up more public anger against to the Tories’ privatisation free-for-all.
DCC James Vaughan, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Lead for Forensic Markets, said of the collapse of KFS:
An unmanaged closure of a major forensic provider would prove very disruptive to the criminal justice system and could lead to the integrity of vital evidence being compromised or lost.
We have agreed and are implementing a plan to ensure that evidence held by this supplier is properly and professionally managed in accordance with very high standards set by the Forensic Regulator.
Whilst Mark Burns-Williamson, the Association of Police and Crime Commisioners Lead for Forensics and for Public Confidence, said:
It’s vitally important that an arrangement has now been reached with the administrator at very short notice, which will mean staff are retained and paid for carrying out this crucial work over the coming weeks.
The arrangements mean the exhibits held by Key Forensic Services Ltd, including for homicide and rape investigations, can be processed during this period of administration and the integrity of the criminal justice system will be protected.
It is estimated further work on current cases will take place for around two months and work is already underway to assess the capacity within the forensic science market to take on the work that would otherwise have gone to this company.
Of course, our sympathies are with staff during this uncertain time. We echo the sentiments of the Forensic Science Regulator praising the commitment to providing high quality scientific work to support the criminal justice system, and can assure them that there remains a strong need for their specialist skills.
We will continue to work hard to make sure that we maintain the confidence of the public in this vital area for policing and criminal justice underlining the urgent need to help transform forensics services as soon as possible.
However, a Home Office spokesperson was presumably at pains to elaborate on the dire situation, or whether the government intended to actually learn from their mistakes, simply saying:
We welcome the NPCC and APCC’s swift action to minimise the impact on the criminal justice system.
It is now painfully clear that the Tories’ steadfast belief in the free-market and privatisation has failed.
With the recent collapse of Carillion, the general public are becoming ever-more aware that the privatisation of key public services has not made it more efficient as we were promised. Privatisation has merely served to transfer huge sums of public money into the pockets of already-wealthy shareholders and investors.
We can see with this culture of greed in many of our Tory-privatised public services. We now have essentially privatised Academy school chains, where CEOs are being paid up to half a million pounds a year whilst parents are being forced to stump up money for equipment due to Tory cuts.
We also see it in our universities, who, since the tripling of tuition fees under the Tory/Lib Dem coalition, are now seemingly able to pay their Vice Chancellors extraordinary salaries.
The outsourcing of vital public services is, and always will be, nothing more than a scam to transfer public money into the pockets of the capitalist class.
When you consider that their policies almost entirely benefit the most well off in society, usually to the detriment of the most vulnerable, it really is little wonder that the Conservatives are almost exclusively bankrolled by the super-rich.
Under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, New Labour were just as bad, and the number of super-rich donors that flocked to the party during this period exemplified their catastriphic embrace of the now-failed neoliberal free-market dogma.
However, since the election of Jeremy Corbyn – a man who has consistently voted against the introduction of private companies into our public services – Labour’s super-rich donors have entirely abandoned the party, whilst ordinary people have flocked to the party to sign up as members.
The neoliberal privatisation scam has been fully exposed, and if you want it to stop, there is only one party – a party very much under new leadership – who are going to make it happen.
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