The Forensic Science Laboratory issued some 6,843 forensic, DNA and ballistic certificates in 2012, up from a total of 4,163 the previous year.
Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, said this represented a 64 per cent increase in the number of certificates produced by the Forensic lab.
Mr. Bunting was making his contribution to the 2013/14 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on June 19,
He noted that the “huge improvement” could be attributed, in part, to a number of initiatives, which were implemented last year to boost the facility’s effectiveness. These included the addition of new comparison microscopes for the Ballistics and Biology Departments; access to an improved supply of DNA reagents and supplies; and the assignment of a Forensic Liaison Officer from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) to the Forensic Lab.
There was also the introduction of modern protocols, the acquisition of new instruments for the Chemistry, DNA and Biology Departments; and an increase in the number of Ballistic experts.
Mr. Bunting also noted that the merger of the Legal Medicine Unit and the Forensic Laboratory into one entity, as well as the consolidation of personnel and resources, have so far improved efficiency.
This has resulted in an increase in the number of autopsies and post-mortem reports completed by the Legal Medicine Unit from a total of 2,586 and 1,192 respectively, in 2011, to 2,903 and 2,657, respectively, in 2012.
Meanwhile, the Security Minister reiterated plans to upgrade the Forensic Lab to an Executive Agency. This, he said, will enable the agency to operate as a fully independent and autonomous body, with a new organisational structure, and the ability to generate its own revenue.
He noted that plans are also in place to eventually facilitate the Regional Integrated Ballistics Information Network (RIBIN), which will enable the sharing of ballistics data among CARICOM countries. Training programmes for the Lab Technicians will also increase, he said.
Contact: Athaliah Reynolds-Baker