Plans to axe the Solihull-based police forensics service, which helped catch killers such as Ian Huntley and Suffolk Strangler Steve Wright, have been slammed by MPs.
Closing the Forensic Science Service could make it harder to convict murderers in the future, MPs have warned.
They urged Ministers to listen to campaigners including Sara Payne, who has urged the Government to keep the service open.
Her daughter Sarah was murdered by paedophile Roy Whiting at the age of eight in 2000. Forensic sciences played an important role in securing his conviction.
The Government plans to close the service, which has laboratories across the country and is based at Birmingham Business Park, Marston Green. Instead, police forces will buy services as needed from private laboratories.
Ministers say the service loses £2 million a month and cannot continue as it is.
But MPs have condemned the plans in a Commons motion, warning: “The breaking-up and transfer of responsibilities, specialised skills, intellectual property and employees of the Forensic Science Service will damage the UK’s leading role in forensic science research and development.”
The MPs say they are “concerned that the Government’s plans would place a critical aspect of the criminal justice system into a marketplace which is unstable and shrinking, without a clear understanding of the impact this will have on forensic capability and criminal justice”.
Birmingham MP Steve McCabe (Lab Selly Oak) sponsored the motion, which has been signed by Valerie Vaz (Lab Walsall South), Richard Burden (Lab Northfield) and Khalid Mahmood (Lab Perry Barr).
It echoes criticism in a letter signed by 33 leading forensic scientists in December, warning that closing the service would see the country lose its position as world leader in crime-scene investigation.
The service deals more than 120,000 cases a year. In 2005 it changed from being a government agency to become a government-owned company in 2005, meaning that it had to bid for work against other forensic service providers.