Rushton Court, the brand-new police forensic laboratory in the Dundee One building at the waterfront, could be the key to winning the battle against crime over the next decades according to Dundee West MSP Joe FitzPatrick.

The MSP was speaking after a national report showed that a re-organisation of Scotland’s forensic laboratories was vital to provide a more cost-effective and consistent crime-detection service to the nation’s eight police forces and procurator fiscals.

The Scottish Police Service Authority’s paper, ‘Forensic Service Modernisations Options’ raises four options for the future structure of the service and the Dundee West MSP believes that the new Dundee lab should be one of two – along with a new lab to be built at Gartcosh – to provide the national service.

This will mean an increased role for the new Dundee lab and its state-of-the art facilities and may bring more civil service jobs to the city.

Joe FitzPatrick, who has raised a Parliamentary Motion on the subject (see below) said: “Since it was set up in 2007, the Scottish Police Services Authority (SPSA) has aimed to provide Scotland’s police forces with a more effective and consistent national forensic service to meet an ever increasing demand.

“DNA fingerprinting and analysis and scenes-of-crime support are benefiting from advances in technique and technology.

“A national forensic service is vital and a key element is consistency and standardisation. At the same time, we need to take account of financial challenges facing the public sector.

“At present there are four laboratories but the report identifies the real opportunities for more effective utilisation of resources through a two laboratory structure as the most cost-effective option.

“Local Crime Scene Examination Services at each of the eight police forces HQs will stay under the new structure.

”As a brand-new custom-built laboratory, Rushton Court here in Dundee is crucial to the future of the service. I believe a two-lab option will provide the highest level of efficiency for the lowest cost – allowing savings of £3.5m by 2015 – and therefore will provide the best possible crime detection service to Scotland’s police forces and the wider public at optimum cost.”
The report follows a year long analysis by the SPSA management of how to provide a forensic service which better meets the national needs of police forces and fiscals. It is presently being considered as part of a six-week consultation process on the service structure options which aims to reach consensus on the best way forward.