Author Topic: Australia - Forensic cuts won't affect police work  (Read 1182 times)

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Offline JC

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Australia - Forensic cuts won't affect police work
« on: September 24, 2012, 06:02:05 am »
Queensland's Police Minister insists axing 11 forensic chemists from the state's scientific laboratories will not delay police tests on the state's escalating clandestine drug lab problem. For the past decade, the state has reported the highest number of illegal drug labs in the country, with almost 50 per cent of Australia's drug labs or "clan labs" found in Queensland.

According to Australian Crime Commission statistics, between 2001 and 2011 between 42 per cent and 54 per cent of all clan labs in Australia were detected in Queensland. Forensic chemists and forensic toxicologists work with police to decommission clan labs, test powders, drugs and chemicals found when a drug lab is located.

Advertisement Police Minister Jack Dempsey said he had been assured the job cuts would not affect police work at the Forensic and Scientific Services area, including the John Tonge Centre.

"I was made aware of the changes which would be taking place at the John Tonge Centre," Mr Dempsey said.

"The Health Minister has assured me that there will be no impact on DNA or police evidence processing and that highly specialised testing will continue to be provided by FSS."  Australian Crime Commission acting executive director Judith Lind said the organisation's main concern was that 70 per cent of clan labs were found in residential homes.

She said the Australian Crime Commission would not comment on government job cuts.

A concerned scientist said more than the 77 jobs reported last week were being axed from the centre, and said it would lead to delays in coronial investigations and drug lab tests.  "Clandestine laboratories are hazardous by nature and pose a real risk to the community and the police who respond to these scenes," the staff member said.

"The staff who attend these scenes to assist the police in decommissioning the laboratories are highly trained and it can take up to two years to train a chemist to work independently.

"A reduction of staff in these areas will unfortunately place us back down the path of lengthy delays with no rational explanation or justification." Queensland Health yesterday confirmed an extra 11 jobs would go in FSS DNA analysis, toxicology and chemistry areas.

"As a result of restructuring, 11 currently occupied (full-time equivalent) positions will not be continued," a spokesman said. However the spokesman's statement said the job losses would not impact police work.

"Elements of routine testing not connected with police or court-related activity that is currently undertaken by FSS scientists is also performed by providers in the private sector," he said.

"Their services may therefore be contracted for this type of work, freeing up the scientists for detailed work."  Shadow Police Minister Bill Byrne said concerns had also been raised with him over the job cuts because there was a real danger the evidence trail could be broken.

"I would think it is just ludicrous frankly, that that area of the scientific support to the investigation process would be compromised in any fashion," he said.

"I can't think of a role that is more directly related to front-line services than these scientific support staff which you need as part of your evidentiary trail."

Mr Byrne said he was concerned at the LNP's strategy to reduce staff, especially when specialist staff were lost.

"It really is quite arbitrary, it's top down - a dictate coming down saying, 'I want a 25 per cent cut in your operating costs'," he said.

"'And I want is a number of options on the table and I want them on the table in two weeks and I will select one.'  "Which is not a logical, or necessarily effective approach."

There will be 124 full-time equivalent staff at Forensic and Scientific Services DNA, toxicology and chemistry areas after the restructure, Queensland Health said.

 

10 comments so far

What a load of absolute horsesh*t. The John Tonge centre is already besieged by its workload.

I recall they had to send work interstate such as the Baden-Clay tests to NSW and other stuff to Victoria such is the backlog of police work they struggle under.

Vandal Newman & the LNP - promise one thing, do the opposite.


Commenter Peter Location St Lucia Date and time September 21, 2012, 6:20AM
 
Peter, I totally agree. These so called "cost savings" will in the longer term cost more to "outsource" to private medical laboratories. One only has to look at the cost for a standard blood test through medicare to know that these costs will "skyrocket" under this type of scheme. I wonder what "spin" Dopey Newman & the other six dwarfs will put on the "overrun". Lets fast foward to the next election & get rid of this "egotistical little man" & the "black sheep" within the LNP that follow him blindly.


Commenter Davo Location Brisbane Date and time September 21, 2012, 7:22AM
"Queensland's Police Minister insists axing 11 forensic chemists from the state's scientific laboratories will not delay police tests."

No - because those 11 chemists obviously sat around doing nothing all day....


Commenter Derwan Location Date and time September 21, 2012, 6:51AM
 
well its a case of the minister saying that anyway and thinking all Queenslanders are stupid , actually it shows how smug the Minister is in his job. The point to remember is you take away the key testing staff and the work will back up . I 've never seen such a new government score so many owed goals. I'll wait for the outcry when the work backs up delaying court cases and then the answer will be we will have to outsource it . Sadly this will lead to Crime fugures bribing employees of the outsourced company's to destroy or alter evidence . I say this because it came up in the 1970's using private crime labs was risky due to Crime figures bribing staff . Thats why we decided back then to have our own crime lab - but here we go again repeating history - no one ever learns except the hard way - But I would have thought the Minister already knew this history


Commenter Bob Menzies Location Cannon Hill Date and time September 21, 2012, 7:10AM
 
It is only a few years since the media were reporting cases being thrown out of court due to the delays in forensic analysis, with up to 2 years to get results. Since then, with increased funding, more scientists and support staff, this is no longer the case and there are no significant delays in forensic analysis. The work loads and the number of different new synthetic drugs is continuing to increase. How can cutting the number of scientists NOT have an effect on police work and result in expensive court delays??
Aren't the LNP claiming in their policies that they will be "Delivering Swift and Fair Justice" and "Cracking Down on Serious Drug Crime"?


Commenter MAD Scientist Location Brisbane Date and time September 21, 2012, 8:33AM
 
The Police Minister knows that according to the Dramas Forensic shows we can see that when there are costs cutbacks there are problems as a result.


Commenter Acushla Location Date and time September 21, 2012, 8:39AM
 
The only work conducted by the Forensic Chemistry and Toxicology Departments are related to police work, so its hard to see how these cuts won't have an effect. In addition there are no private laboratories forensically accredited to conduct this work. Perhaps the Newman Govt should look back over the negative media reports the Beattie Govt suffered when the Forensic Science Departments were understaffed.


Commenter Joe public Location Date and time September 21, 2012, 8:42AM
 
I know someone there and they only have about 30 forensic chemists in total - so a 30% cut won't effect services? Yeah, OK.


Commenter Carl Location Date and time September 21, 2012, 8:55AM
 
Its a great time to be a Crim in QLD..


Commenter Beetle007 Location Date and time September 21, 2012, 9:55AM
 

Some interesting comment. Your thoughts as always are welcome.


Source: Brisbane Times
http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/forensic-cuts-wont-affect-police-work-minister-20120920-269bh.html




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