Steady progress by police to improve scientific support services

The Police Service of Northern Ireland has been commended for the work it has undertaken to improve its Scientific Support Services during the last 12 months.

The latest joint review by Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJI) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) assessed improvements made by the PSNI since Inspectors first examined progress in 2007 against their original report.
“We are pleased to report that steady progress is being made by the PSNI to achieve all the recommendations that have been made,” said Kit Chivers, Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice and Ken Williams, Inspector of Constabulary with HMIC.
“Today, we are in a position to sign off a further five as ‘achieved’ but while we recognise a significant effort has been made to progress nine other outstanding recommendations, further effort is required before this work is completed,” said Mr Chivers.
Inspectors found that critical policies such as those dealing with the management and co-ordination of crime scenes and the storage, retention, weeding and destruction of property had been reviewed and made available to officers via the PSNI’s intranet site.
“New equipment purchased by the Service to support officers engaged in crime scene management is being widely used, and the PSNI is monitoring performance to ensure there is a ‘return on investment’ in new initiatives and training,” said Mr Chivers.
He continued: “Concerns still exist about the submission of exhibits to Forensic Science Northern Ireland. This issue of quality control is acknowledged by PSNI and steps have already been introduced to improve the standard of packaging with other initiatives planned to reduce errors and make the process more robust.
“Inspectors welcome the fact that two forensic officers are now involved in providing training at the Police College. This is a positive development, but we will be looking to see further progress in this area - especially in terms of developing a corporate approach to raising forensic awareness among operational officers in the middle of their careers - when we review progress again in 2009,” continued Northern Ireland’s Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice.
“We also welcome the constructive working relationship that is continuing to develop between PSNI and Forensic Science Northern Ireland, and look forward to seeing further progress in developing shared databases and a common numbering system for exhibits,” Mr Chivers concluded.
Inspectors are assured PSNI views Scientific Support Services as critical to the investigation and detection of crime, and that it will undertake further work to achieve the completion of all outstanding recommendations.