Investment will retain expert staff and secure long term future of vital service.
A new toxicology laboratory for Scotland is to be created to provide state-of-the-art testing capabilities for police and prosecutors.
The Scottish Government is providing more than £6 million for the new purpose-built centre that will be able to test for a wide range of substances, including drugs and alcohol.
The laboratory will be run by the Scottish Police Authority Forensic Services (SPA FS), providing vital sample testing to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).
The funding enables the transition of post mortem toxicology forensic services from the University of Glasgow to the SPA FS. Highly specialist staff will transfer over to the new unit when it opens next year, securing their skills in this specialist area.
Today’s funding announcement signals the start of a procurement process which will see the creation of a new facility in the Central Belt run by SPA FS.
Justice Secretary Keith Brown said:
“I welcome this investment to provide a new state-of-the-art facility which will allow essential post mortem toxicology services to continue, ensuring that the COPFS continues to meet its obligations to investigate all sudden, unexplained deaths.
“This investment also enables significant operational efficiencies to be delivered with the new service benefitting from specialist scientific instruments and supplies in a purpose built laboratory.”
Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain QC said:
“This change secures the future of a service that is vital for the investigation of unexplained deaths. I would like to thank the University of Glasgow for their hard work over the years, and I am delighted that their expert staff will be retained in the transition.”
SPA Director of Forensic Services Tom Nelson said:
“We welcome this investment by the Scottish Government to support the running of the Post Mortem Toxicology Service by SPA Forensic Services from December 2022.
“This additional service will be delivered from a new laboratory with the highly-skilled staff currently working at the University of Glasgow supported by colleagues in Forensic Services SPA.
“SPA Forensic Services will work with key partners to deliver an accredited Post Mortem Toxicology Service which will meet the needs of the people of Scotland.”
As part of the transfer to SPA FS there will be a Service Level Agreement between SPA FS and COPFS, setting out Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), including how long the services will take for each type of case priority, the number of cases to be examined, the type of drugs to be examined, etc.
The performance against these KPIs will be regularly monitored and reviewed by COPFS once SPA FS begin delivering the service, and will be scrutinised more widely through reporting to the SPA Forensic Services Committee and full SPA Board.
Further details of the project will be made public as it progresses.