The FSS has announced that they will be “wound up” by 2012 due to its operational losses of £2 million per month. The Forensic Science Service (FSS) is the government-funded provider of forensic services to England and Wales’ police forces.
Despite the benefit to the commercial sector that this will cause, the Forensic Science Service has been groundbreaking in the industry, as they pioneered the development and implementation of DNA technologies and also paved the way for the formation of the first DNA database, which was successfully launched in April 1995.
The business became a government agency on April 1 1991, while in December 2005 it turned into a government-owned company. During this period the FSS has been responsible for innovations such as the introduction of the National Firearms Forensic Database in 2003 and the UK’s first online footwear coding and detection management system, Footwear Intelligence Technology (FIT), three years ago.
However, despite the triumphs, there have also been well documented problems. The FSS failed to revamp quickly enough to the scientific demands of digital devices and therefore entered the computer forensics market very late. This gave commercial competitors “an edge” that has led to their downfall.
Other more serious problems have also occurred. For example; “The FSS suffered damage to its reputation following the failure to recover blood stains from a shoe in the murder of Damilola Taylor. Further damage occurred when the FSS failed to use the most up-to-date techniques for extracting DNA samples in cases between 2000 and 2005. This led the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to advise all police forces in England and Wales to review cases where samples had failed to give a DNA profile.” [Source: Wikipedia]
The work of the FSS (both good and bad) has resulted in a better understanding of successfully working withincomputer forensics and mobile phone forensics, which the entire industry should be very grateful for.