Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Baroness Smith: Non-applicance of science could impact on crime detections

BARONESS SMITH of Basildon rose on the floor of the House of Commons to express her concerns regarding falling detection rates.

Baroness Smith of Basildon (Labour)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of crime detection rates.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach (Whip, House of Lords; Conservative)

My Lords, this Government do not assess the performance of police forces through centrally mandated targets. However, we are ensuring that the public and PCCs have access to consistent and comprehensive information on all crime outcomes. This supports police accountability, as the public can now hold the police to account for how they respond to crime in their area.

Baroness Smith of Basildon (Labour)

My Lords, I am not sure that that really answers my Question. Perhaps I can be clearer. Government cuts mean that 15,000 fewer police officers will be in place by the time of the next election. It is not therefore rocket science to understand that last year 30,000 fewer crimes were solved.

The Minister will be aware that forensic evidence is a key part of bringing criminals to justice. Can I direct him to yesterday’s evidence from Michael Turner QC, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, to the Science and Technology Committee of the other place? He said that following the Government’s abolition of the highly regarded Forensic Science Service, the quality of expert witnesses being used by the crown was now, in his words, “variable”.

Is the Minister aware of the frustration of so many investigating police officers who are experiencing serious delays in getting the forensic evidence reports they have taken at the scene of crime? They are not getting them in time. Given the questions on the quality and delays in the system in getting a forensic evidence service, does the Minister think that scrapping the Forensic Science Service was a good idea?


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