Increase in violent crime putting extra pressure on forensic science services

IMPACT trade union’s Forensic Science branch has told the union’s conference in Killarney that the capacity of Forensic Science Ireland to carry out its evidence gathering function is under threat due to inadequate facilities. Stephen Clifford told delegates that the recent escalation in gangland crime adds a further strain on already stretched resources.

Stephen said, “Forensic Science Ireland’s mission is to deliver, to the best international standards, expert opinion, advice, training and research to support the criminal justice system.

“In order to do this we have to ensure the forensic evidence we gather retains its integrity. Every piece of work produced is available for scrutiny by the courts and by defence scientists.

“Our capacity to carry out our function is under threat. The biggest challenge we face is that we are doing our work in a wholly inadequate environment. The old building is no longer suitable to accommodate the new technologies we are working with.

“The effect of the poor conditions is that extra staff and resources are taken up with logistics, trying to complete our work efficiently and accurately with inadequate facilities. The recent escalation in gangland crime adds a further strain with re-diversion of already stretched resources.

“Any delays at our end, due to this lack of resources and facilities may slow the progress of garda investigations and can result in delays for court,” he said.

Stephen said that huge improvements have been made in Northern Ireland and Scotland’s forensic service following the construction of purpose- built labs. Mr Clifford added, “Similarly our colleagues in Estonia have acknowledged the value of this kind of investment and prioritised the building of modern facilities.”

Delegates unanimously backed the emergency motion to conference, which calls for all necessary resources to be provided to Gardaí and other specialist units in order to properly resource the investigation of criminal activity.