STALYBRIDGE and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds has highlighted concerns about the closure of the Forensic Sciences Service in the House of Commons.
The Government has drawn up controversial proposals to close the Forensic Sciences Service (FSS), with its work to be transferred to the private sector.
But there are widespread concerns about the impact this could have on levels of impartiality and quality of the service - as well as accessibility to experts round the clock.
Now Jonathan Reynolds - who visited the Service's Northern Firearms Unit last month - has asked the Leader of the House George Young for a parliamentary debate, in order to scrutinise the Government's plans more closely.
"I recently visited the Northern Firearm Unit, in Manchester," Mr Reynolds told the House of Commons following his request.
"Significant concerns exist that the partiality, quality and round-the-clock coverage provided by that unit will be lost under the Government's hasty closure plans."
During his visit to the National Firearms Unit, Mr Reynolds heard how the staff's expertise played an important role in the solving of gun crime.
He heard how staff were on call to attend scenes of shootings around the clock, throughout the north of the country. And he was told how analysis in the Greater Manchester laboratory could often shed light on the crime and provide vital evidence.
Following the visit he said: "The Northern Firearms Unit brings together a team of highly knowledgeable and skilled staff. "Their painstaking work can play a vital part in determining how a shooting took place and identify the number of weapons that could have been involved.
"And their outstanding skill and attention to detail has played a major role in the solving and conviction of a significant number of high profile crimes.
"But the concentration of expertise contained in the Northern Firearms Unit could be lost if the Forensic Science Service is allowed to close. "Inevitably there will be private companies who could bid for the work. But the risk is that they will cherry-pick the quickest, least labour intensive and most profitable parts of forensic work.
"Without a fully independent, expert and trusted forensics service, the true cost of these changes could be the quality of justice that is given by our courts system. And that is too high a price."
Following his request for a debate in the House of Commons, the Leader of the House George Young said he would raise the matter with the Home Secretary.
Published march 14, 2011