At the end of December we heard of course the bad news of the Forensic Science Service that closes in 2012 due to losses. Since it is the biggest provider of England and Wales (60 percent) owned by the government it is a question what happens with the experience of the forensic scientists. Of course I also heard the bad news from many colleagues who work there, and since they were very active within the forensic communities, such as ENFSI, we will also see changes in these law enforcement forensic communities. Perhaps we learn from what happened there, however perhaps future will give them also new opportunities.
Also in the Netherlands it is investigated what happens if we are working in a market as a forensic service. This report is balanced, since it also provides insight in the issues that can arise in a market. An abstract in English is provided on the website, and describes three scenarios from the full government service to the free market solution for a crime lab with strict market control with a regulator.
An issue with forensic science in a crime lab is that there is not many jobs, and certainly not if budget cuts are in place. There are many students interested in forensic science as such, also due to the CSI effect, so we see a mismatch between the number of jobs and the available jobs. If we take England and Wales as and example, the Forensic Science Service has 1300 scientists and figures state that it is 60 percent of the market. The population of England and Wales is 53 million, so it means that aproximately 40 scientist per million of inhibitants. If we assume that forensic scientist stay on their job on avarage for 20 years, this means 2 vacancies per million inhibitants. Most European countries have less forensic scientists, so the number of vacancies for crime labs is limited, at least in crime labs.