Some of the laboratory's work involves fingerprint analysis
Plans to close one of Scotland's forensic crime laboratories have been dropped, it has been announced.
The Scottish Police Services Authority (SPSA) plans to build a new £16.2m lab in Dundee and had said it wanted to close its site in Aberdeen.
But Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill asked the SPSA to review its proposal.
The SPSA said it would "not be seeking approval for any immediate changes to the status of the Aberdeen lab" but said some changes were "inevitable".
Vic Emery, convener of the SPSA - which provides support services to police - said he believed some changes would be necessary in the medium to longer term.
But he said that must be based on "evidence and not guesswork".
It has not been designed as a national service and we need to look critically at the strengths and weaknesses that we have
The SPSA is now looking to develop a clear national model for the delivery of forensic services.
Mr Emery, who took up his post at the beginning of this year, said it was clear that "the thinking about how best to organise forensic services to serve the whole country's needs is still evolving".
He said that meant it would be "premature to consider significant changes to the existing structure - especially something as fundamental as the closure of a facility".
He said: "I have therefore advised the justice secretary that the SPSA will bring this specific consultation process on Aberdeen to an end, and confirmed to him that we will not be seeking his approval for any immediate changes to the status of the Aberdeen laboratory."
Instead, he said, the SPSA's priority over the next five to six months would be to carry out a "searching examination of the way forward for a national forensic service" which will examine the current forensics capability, as well as the demand from customers.
The BBC looked at the work of the Aberdeen laboratory in January
Mr Emery added: "I believe that only with a plan, and a consensus with customers, on the national direction of forensic services can we then engage in any future consultation that may be necessary around a specific facility like Aberdeen."
He acknowledged the staff at the Aberdeen lab - which serves the Grampian and Northern police forces - had had to live with "considerable uncertainty" over the centre's future for more than a year.
"I hope that this decision gives them some much needed clarity about the way forward," he said.
"I want to stress that this is not a decision about preserving the status quo. The structure that forensic services took over from policing is one that grew up over time.
"It has not been designed as a national service and we need to look critically at the strengths and weaknesses that we have."
Nicol Stephen, Lib Dem MSP for Aberdeen South, said: "This is very good news - at least for the moment. The campaign to save the Aberdeen forensic lab must remain very much alive. The threat to both Aberdeen and Edinburgh clearly remains."
Aberdeen North SNP MSP Brian Adam said: "This is great news for the staff who have been at the forefront of the campaign to keep these facilities open and have had to work with this cloud hanging over them for too long."
Aberdeen Central Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald said: "I am pleased that instead of pushing through a closure that neither the staff, unions, police board, chief constable nor local MSPs wanted, that they will now review forensic services across the country as a whole.
"It is essential that a city such as Aberdeen has an efficient and successful forensic laboratory like the one that exists now."
Northern Constabulary said it welcomed the decision to end the consultation.
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