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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 November, 2003, 17:58 GMT
Yorkshire and Lincolnshire: The Price of Justice?
Len Tingle
Len Tingle
Political Editor, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire

In 1991 the body of Leeds teenager Julie Dart was found wrapped in a sheet and dumped in a field near Grantham.

Michael Samms and Julie Dart
Samms the abductor and murderer of Yorkshire teenager Julie Dart

Two years later at Nottingham Crown Court Michael Samms received a life sentence for her abduction and murder.

According to the detective leading the manhunt Michael Samms would not have been convicted without crucial forensic evidence.

Bob Taylor, now retired from West Yorkshire police, explains to this week's Politics Show for Yorkshire and Lincolnshire that tiny fibres found on the sheet matched those from the carpet of Samm's workshop in Newark.

Other specialists found splashes of Julie's blood so small that they were undetectable to the eye.

Crime Scene
Forensic Science Service attends crime scenes throughout the UK

Forensic Service essential

Over 2000 people work for the Home Office's Public Forensic Science Service at seven laboratories around the country.

Police forces call in their expertise to hundreds of different crime scenes every day from murders to burglaries.

This week the Home Office confirmed that the service is to be privatised.

Bob Taylor
Forensic evidence was crucial to the case

In a statement it said that the move is simply a response to economic pressures which are already taking place with some police forces already using private companies for some forensic work.

Bob Taylor is not reassured;

Bear in mind we had one person, a forensic scientist who was our liaison, coordinating all these services and I fear that if we lose that, if you are dealing with seven different companies and not one that you will not get the same service and the integrity of the forensic science service is uppermost.

His fears are shared by the Labour MP Colin Burgon.

Almost 300 hundred staff work at the Wetherby forensic science laboratories which lie in his Elmet Constituency in West Yorkshire.

Mr Burgon said;

Colin Burgon MP
"People willing to go that extra mile"

The relationship between police and the forensic science service which is so close and so effective will be broken up because of privatisation.

People are committed to the public sector ethos and this is something we should be supporting.

People are willing to go the extra miles because they realise how they fit into the overall criminal justice system.

I'm not sure that this will carry over into the private sector.

The Forensic Science service dismisses that idea.

It claims the substantial new finance it will gain from entering into partnership with private companies to deliver some of its services will allow it keep up its standards in an increasingly competitive market.

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