New forensic laboratory nearing completion next summer
Forensic Sciences Ireland (FSI) said it has made significant progress in building its new lab, which is slated to open in the summer of 2022.
The new lab, located on the Backweston, Co Kildare campus, is expected to be a world-class facility that will be equipped with physical, chemical and DNA analysis labs. It will support work in very technical areas and will have a much greater capacity than what currently exists.
Justice Minister Heather Humphreys visited the site as part of its launch of Forensic Science Ireland Annual Report 2020.
Seeing the construction progress so far, Ms Humphreys said: “I was delighted to visit Backweston to see the significant progress in the construction of the new FSI lab, which remains on track for completion at the summer 2022.
“This is a very significant capital investment in the future of state forensic services, and indeed our criminal justice system as a whole, and is a practical demonstration of the government’s commitment. to invest in the fight against crime.
The 2020 report highlighted a substantial increase in demand for ISP services. This was mainly due to the growth of drug submissions and the continued success of DNA technology and databases in support of crime investigations. Another key factor was that 2020 was the first full year that the ISP provided fingerprint, document and handwriting scanning services; these services were previously provided by the Technical Guard Office.
Ms Humphreys added: “I would like to thank Managing Director Chris Enright and the team at Forensic Science Ireland for their tremendous work throughout a difficult 2020. The ISP remained open to all stages of COVID restrictions in 2020, handling more than 22,000 cases. This included the cases reported for the Fingerprints and Documents and Handwriting sections which were integrated into FSI for the first year in 2020.
“The ISF is at the heart of the investigation and judgment of crimes. I believe that the strong forensic processes led by the ISF, combined with good policing, can create a climate of deterrence for potential criminals and increase public confidence in the criminal justice system.
The report pointed out that the DNA database remains a very effective tool for criminal investigation work and that by 2020 the database identified 856 results, assisting 1,102 cases. It has also led to significant advances in the identification of missing and unknown persons.
Ms Humphreys concluded: “Since 2017, the ISF has helped identify 48 human remains that were previously unknown. In 2020 alone, DNA profiling and relationship testing was used to help identify nine people in partnership with the An Garda Síochána Missing Persons Unit.
“I would like to encourage more family members to participate in DNA testing and database matching. My leaders intend to develop targeted outreach, in partnership with An Garda Síochána and the ISF, to build on the success of National Missing Persons Day and encourage the most anxious families to participate in this important process.