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100 forensics staff face axe at lab firm
UP TO 100 jobs at a top forensic laboratory are set go after “drastic cuts” in police budgets.
Bosses at LGC Forensics are now in consultation with half the 200-strong workforce based at Culham.
The firm has worked on a string of high profile cases, most recently the ongoing Bullfinch trial of men accused of involvement in a sex exploitation gang in Oxford.
In a statement, the company said: “The UK forensics market has been undergoing unprecedented change and LGC must adapt to this.
“We must simplify and streamline our services to make them more robust, flexible and cost-effective in an environment where customer requirements are changing significantly.
“For those employees whose jobs may be at risk, this will be a difficult time. We will fully support them as we realign the business, and do our utmost to help them secure new positions.”
The statement said that LGC’s workload had increased significantly following the closure of the Government’s Forensic Science Service (FSS) last year, with staff numbers boosted to cope.
It added: “The business saw increased volumes that we always knew are not sustainable in the medium term.
“As the market normalises, we are adjusting to sustainable volumes and to the staff numbers required to deliver this work.”
A total of 170 jobs across LGC’s operations in the UK will be lost.
Spokesman Guenaelle Holloway said: “The market has decreased drastically and forensics provision is being dealt with differently as there have been drastic cuts in police budgets.
“But we are retaining critical services in Culham for forensics work.”
No one from Thames Valley Police was able to comment if it had cut its forensic budgets or how if there was going to be an affect on its “cold case” crimes – those committed years before but are reopened due to improved forensic techniques.
LGC, which has 15 UK sites, helped convict the killers of Rachel Nickell, Damilola Taylor and Vikki Thompson, who was murdered in Ascott-under-Wychwood in 1995.
In January, Roy Green and Edward Jarman, from LGC in Culham, were praised by police for their discovery of tiny but vital traces of blood which helped lead to the conviction of the killers of Stephen Lawrence.
LGC was formed in 1996 after the privatisation of the Laboratory of the Government Chemist, which dates back to 1842. It was acquired by private equity firm Bridgepoint in 2010 at which point it employed 1,500 staff, making it Europe’s largest independent analytical laboratory.
In 2011-12 it reported an annual turnover of £168 million, compared to £130 million the previous year. Staff grew from 1,380 to 1,584 in that period.