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Collapsed forensics firm bailed out by forces finds buyer


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Effected forces still expected to pay extortionate amount towards costs of keeping company afloat.

Collapsed forensics firm bailed out by forces finds buyer

A forensics firm, which went bust earlier this year and led to forces paying out millions of pounds, has found a new buyer.

Key Forensic Services (KFS) has been invested in by CorpAcq, a Buy and Build Acquisitions Group, as opposed to a Venture Capitalist or a Private Equity Firm, after it announced at the end of January it will be going in to administration.

However, effected forces were left with no choice but to bail out KFS for a hefty sum, thought to be in the millions, after the Home Office refused to step in.

The National Police Chiefs' Council, in conjunction with the Association for Police and Crime Commissioners, devised a plan, which ensured funds were supplied to support the company, thus allowing it to finish processing cases and to find a buyer.

A spokesman for the NPCC, when asked the amount forces had to pay out to continue to process the samples they were holding while they were in administration, said those effected will pay “proportionate” costs towards the overall figure, but exact figures cannot be disclosed at this stage.

At the time of the collapse, concerns were raised over the detrimental effect it could have had on evidence and the criminal justice system.

The firm is carrying out work in 2,000 cases, including a number of serious offences such as murder and rape, for 30 forces.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Forensic Markets, Chief Constable James Vaughan, said: “As a result of Key Forensic Services going into administration earlier in the year, we have worked closely alongside the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, the Home Office, Administrators and other forensic services providers to ensure that the impact on the criminal justice system has been kept to a minimum.

“I am pleased that, after due diligence has been carried out, the sale of the business has now been agreed. We will now be working closely with forces over the coming days to ensure a smooth return to business as usual whilst ensuring appropriate levels of oversight are in place.”

Association of Police and Crime Commissioners Lead for Forensics and for Public Confidence, PCC Mark Burns-Williamson said: “The agreed sale of the business, which secures 238 jobs, will be welcomed by all those that have worked over recent weeks to find a positive outcome to what has been a very difficult situation.

“In particular I want to pay tribute to the staff across the three sites who have, during considerable uncertainty, continued to carry out such critical work.

“We all now need to redouble our efforts to ensure we maintain the confidence of the public in this vital area for policing and criminal justice – that includes the urgent need to help transform forensics services as soon as possible, including more work with the Home Office and National Police Chiefs’ Council to better understand the required capacity within forensics services moving forward.”

The development will continue to raise questions over the government’s decision to privatise forensic services in 2012.

KFS said it is “ready and eager to start re-engaging with customers and delivering forensic services,” and can confirm all operational matters will be unaffected by the change of ownership.

KFS Group Managing Director Paul Hackett said: “I want to thank all our staff and customers for their unwavering support during the change of ownership process. Without doubt, it has been the biggest challenge that KFS has ever faced. Now, as part of the CorpAcq Group, we have a fantastic opportunity to take the business forward and plan for the long term.”

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Not entirely persuaded that privatising created any worse FS work, in many circumstances it improved the services.  The gib difference obviously is that centrally funded meant any shortfalls in the operations might have gone unnoticed whereas privatised is subject to the open market and liable and volatile to the finances.

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