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Forensic science body says more staff needed
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10 Sep 2020 / policing Print

Forensic science body says more staff needed

Forensic Science Ireland (FSI) has said it will need a “sustained increase in capacity” to achieve the level of performance needed by the criminal justice system.

FSI, which provides a scientific service to the criminal justice system by analysing samples from crime scenes and providing expert evidence in criminal trials, published its annual report for 2019 today (10 September).

The number of cases submitted to it in 2019 increased by more than 2,000 to 18,746. This led to a 25% jump in case reports to just over 16,000.


The FSI said increased output from its drugs and DNA services helped to reduce its backlog over the year, but further increases in staff numbers would be needed. It said there had been another 20% annual increase in demand for its services in the first quarter of 2020.

Director general Chris Enright said the organisation had been maintaining all of its critical forensic services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

DNA data exchange

The FSI operates the National DNA Database, under the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Act 2014. The database grew by almost 10,000 profiles to 27,565 during the year, and almost 1,500 samples from crime scenes were added. FSI says 43 out of every 100 samples uploaded onto the database will now be linked to a person.

During the year, FSI also started exchanging DNA profiles through the Prüm Treaty, which allows for the automated anonymous comparison of profiles among participating countries and enables fast information exchange for intelligence purposes.

Ireland began exchanging data bilaterally with Austria last year, identifying matches to suspects with serious offences such as sexual assaults in both countries, according to the FSI.

FSI’s policies and practices in this area are overseen by an independent DNA Database Oversight Committee.

'Cold cases'

FSI participated in the reinvestigation of 17 ‘cold cases’, managed by the serious crime review team of An Garda Síochána, in 2019, and DNA profiling was used in the solving of eight missing person cases.

During 2019, two services – fingerprints, and documents and handwriting - were integrated into FSI from Garda National Technical Bureau.

The organisation is planning to move into a new forensic facility at the Backweston Laboratory Campus in County Kildare, which was due to be completed in 2022. Construction has started, though it has been disrupted by the pandemic.

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