Criminal Justice Inspecorate reports on Forensic Science Northern Ireland

A report* published today by the Criminal Justice Inspectorate into Forensic Science Northern Ireland supports the continued existence of a local forensic science laboratory.  The Chief Inspector, Kit Chivers, acknowledges the recent performance improvement in the Agency.  He says:

"The significant reduction in the times to process DNA samples is making a positive contribution to the investigation and clearance of crime".
However, the report states that the Agency is ‘facing a number of major challenges which have created uncertainty about its longer term viability’. 
With regard to longer term sustainability, he supports the ongoing programme of modernisation and says that:
“The proposed building of a new laboratory is welcome and long overdue but there is also an onus to ensure greater clarity about the Agency’s longer term status and structure.”
Mr Chivers says that FSNI is working hard with its customers to provide an improved forensic science service and adds that:
“Joint planning with PSNI needs to be strengthened in areas such as crime scene attendance, the investigation of serious road traffic collisions, the submission of exhibits to the laboratory and the management and use of forensic science databases”.
The Chief Inspector says that he has some concerns about the retention of management and scientific expertise within the organisation.  He recommends that succession plans are quickly implemented and that staff concerns around pay and conditions are addressed.
Summing up, Kit Chivers says:
"The increasing importance of forensic science to the successful investigation of crime requires a modernised service which is sustainable, independent, viable and effective."