How a Public Private Partnership has kept the Regional Scientific Support Unit going in Yorkshire, with forensics work carried out for other police forces
Thanks to funding cuts, public sector bodies have had to turn to other ways of making their services pay. It has been a painful process that has resulted in, for example, the closure of public libraries and leisure facilities. In the last five years, it has put pressure on police forces, with forensics being hard hit in favour of front line services.
As a consequence, forensics work has been outsourced to private contractors. In the last month, we have learned about recent scandals where evidence has gone astray in criminal investigation work. Over in Wakefield, West Yorkshire Police have come up with a solution. By means of a Public Private Partnership, we have learned about the Regional Scientific Support Unit in The Yorkshire Post.
The £21 million facility in Calder Park lies on the outskirts of Wakefield city centre. It is just off the A636 trunk road and Junction 39 of the M1 motorway. Their private sector partner, the LGC Group, has for over a century been the UK Government Chemist. They were privatised in 1996. Calder Park not only undertakes forensics work for West Yorkshire Police. They also work with the other Yorkshire police forces, plus the forces in Cleveland, County Durham, and Northumberland.
The timing of the centre’s arrival was immaculate. Firstly, the Coalition Government had closed the (FSS) Forensic Science Service building in Wetherby along with six other locations. This led to the loss of 1,600 jobs. Secondly, West Yorkshire Police were looking for new premises to undertake forensics work. Thirdly, cuts to police funding had led to other forces outsourcing their forensics work.
Thanks to a PPP (Public Private Partnership) between West Yorkshire Police and the LGC Group, the problem was solved. After initial teething troubles, the Regional Scientific Support Unit has been hailed as an example of best practice within its field.
Forensic Assessment, 09 March 2017.