The impending closure of the Forensic Science Service (FSS) and the affect this will have on testing for drink-driving could create fears that this can result in more people escaping prosecution for driving while over the limit.
However, measures have already been put in place to continue processing drink-driving suspects’ samples and to reassure the public. Senior officers have said there will be “no impact on the criminal justice process."
A joint statement from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) said: “There is capacity to undertake these services by other forensic suppliers under the NPIA’s national framework for the supply of forensic services to policing.
A transition plan was already in place for the transfer of the testing work undertaken by the Forensic Science Service. Swift arrangements will now be made to ensure that alternative suppliers provide the analysis for Road Traffic Act drink and drug cases. There are already other forensic suppliers who undertake this work.”
Not all cases are the same and it affects those where a breath test cannot be obtained from a suspect, an alternative method of testing is chosen or if equipment is defective.
Official figures released show the service, during 2009, conducted over 16,000 laboratory tests on blood and urine samples. Even with this staggering total, £2 million is being lost each month.
These financial losses are obviously not sustainable but this revised method of analysis will hopefully stem the huge losses being made and also save vast numbers of lives while helping improve the efficiency of forensic services and enabling this funding to be spent productively elsewhere.