Forensic investigation cuts harm crimefighting: experts

Netherlands Forensic Institute employees at a crime scene. (Netherlands Forensic Institute employees at a crime scene)

Experts are worried that cutbacks in forensic investigations will have a negative effect on crime solving, NOS reports. Employees of the NFI gave the same warning last month.

The Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) plans to scrap a number of specializations, despite objections from the staff. The management wants to save money by removing investigations on paint, hair and handwriting. The management thinks that these investigations are too expensive. The NFI hopes to substantially scale back the annual expenditure by scrapping the small specialists. The idea is that the National Police and commercial parties will take over those investigations.

The Ministry of Security and Justice decided that there will be cutbacks at the NFI in the coming years. The institute will receive about 9 million euros less in 2018 than it did in 2013.

Experts warn that valuable knowledge may be lost with the cutbacks. According to criminology professor Ton Broeders, these investigations are not financially attractive enough to be picked up by commercial parties. The current specialists are also all trained in the practice of the NFI and may find it difficult to find other work in the same line. Broeders was the head of investigation at the NFI for years before founding a commercial forensic institute in Maastricht.

The Tweede Kamer (lower house of parliament) still has to approve these cutback plans. The Kamer will have a hearing about it today on the initiative of the SP and CDA. The management of the NFI as well as external experts will participate. The debate on the cutbacks will happen next week.