National Security Minister Victor La Corbiniere has responded to criticisms regarding delays in solving crimes due to an inefficient forensic lab, stating that he is satisfied with its operations.
Speaking to media on Tuesday, May 20, La Corbiniere said that the forensic lab “is by and large working well.”
He noted that there has been extensive training of its staff in recent times and that a document is currently being prepared to give “a greater sense to the public as to what the forensic lab is doing.”
“The forensic lab is not perfect. There are issues to be addressed. I am not going to say to you that we have an absolutely perfect and most efficient in the world forensic lab. It is a work in progress,” he said.
The facility has six units – a Chemistry Unit, Toxicology Unit, Biology Unit, Trace Evidence Unit, DNA Testing Unit and Crime Scene Support & Training.
The minister noted that there are some aspects of forensics which are not yet being done at the lab due to lack of machinery, equipment and training. Ballistics is one of these areas which according to La Corbiniere, is difficult to manage.
“We took a decision, many years ago that a forensic lab would not have an easy capacity to do ballistics and so that has always been a shady area and a difficult area for us to manage,” he said.
He dispelled suggestions that the lab does not have the capacity to do Deoxyribonucleic acid or (DNA) testing.
“That is absolutely untrue. The capacity is there. What we are looking at however, is more efficient ways of doing it because my understanding is that for some of these practices there are developments that are taking place all the time. And so you have to be of a bit of a cutting edge. What is good today, in five years’ time is absolutely obsolete in terms of [the] scientific approach to doing things,” he said.
“Part of the difficulties sometimes is for a government with limited resources to keep up to date with these issues. So sometimes you do something and in five years’ time it’s sort of passé because the world has moved on and it’s a bit of a chase and a stretch for government…” he added.
La Corbiniere also pointed to efforts which are being made to get the police more in sync with the lab and its operations when carrying out their duties.
“There are also some issues with the police and the forensic lab because the forensic lab can only operate in conjunction with the police and with how the police conduct their own affairs. Up to recently we have been having joint meetings between the forensic lab and the police to try to ensure that the police themselves are able to fine-tune some of their protocols, some of their mechanisms for doing business. So that there can be better and more professional synergies between the forensic lab and the police,” the minister said.
Just recently, the women’s arm of the United Workers’ Party, Women In Action (WIA) called for the immediate resignation of the minister of national security citing various reasons – one of which was was the forensic lab being “comatose without proper technical staff and the minister is now callously asking aggrieved citizens to seek recourse through the civil courts in cases where citizens died whilst in custody of the state.”
“Minister La Corbinere is oblivious to the many victims of rape and families of victims of murder, who crave emotional relief and closure by ensuring that all investigative services, especially forensic, are functioning properly and efficiently,” the WIA group had said.