Forensic institute budget cuts move forward

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The lower house of Dutch parliament approved a 13 percent budget cut to the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI). The cuts were fiercely contested by opposition parties, forensic investigators, criminologists, the police department and prosecutors, but passed with support from the ruling coalition of the conservative VVD and leftist PvdA labour party.

The minister wants to see more private institutions and international organizations handling Netherlands forensic work, newswire ANP reported.

Opposition MPs voiced concern that criminal investigations could be compromised by the budget cuts. Newly-installed Justice Minister Ard van der Steur disputed the claim, saying that an annual budget of 59 million euros provides enough money for both thorough forensic work and investment in new technology, the ANP wrote.

He cautioned police and prosecutors to be more selective in deciding when to involve the NFI, which the opposition says could lead to enormous problems, not least of which is the NFI losing capacity to complete investigative work.

Work conducted by the NFI has grown over the last three years, the minister said, even as the budget is falling.

Van der Steur further tried to soothe opposition fears, vowing to keep a watchful eye on the effects of the budgetary reduction. He added that the cuts are scheduled over a several years, and were made necessary by the economic crisis.