CONTROVERSIAL plans to close a key Scottish forensic laboratory have been shelved.
The future of the Grampian Police forensic lab in Aberdeen was thrown into doubt last May after Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish justice secretary, announced he had approved a proposal by the Scottish Police Services Authority (SPSA) which runs the country's four police forensic labs, to transfer services to a new 16.2 million facility in Dundee.
Local MPs and MSPs were joined in opposing the plan by the Northern Constabulary and Grampian Police boards.
Yesterday the SPSA said it would no longer seek approval for any "immediate changes" to the status of the Aberdeen laboratory.
Tom Nelson, the SSPA director of forensic services, said: "Without a clear long-term plan, and the detailed engagement with customers that such a plan must have, the convener, interim chief executive, and I have concluded that it would be premature to consider significant changes to the existing structure – especially something as fundamental as the closure of a facility.
"Instead, SPSA's preferred approach is to concentrate on fresh engagement with customers across Scotland on a national service model for the whole of forensic services."
The reprieve was welcomed by campaigners. Mike Rumbles, the Liberal Democrat MSP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, said:
"While it is, of course, likely that the SPSA will want to make changes after it has completed its national review, I am confident that the high standard of work in Aberdeen will ensure that the laboratory will not be considered for closure."