“there are these enormous delays and they are holding up cases at all levels”

The BBC reports comments by senior judge, Mr Justice Hart, criticising the lack of “properly resourced” and “properly organised” forensic science facilities in Northern Ireland.  From the BBC report

The judge said: “There is an entirely unacceptable and unjustified and indeed gross delay on the part of the relevant authorities in dealing with the analysis of what is alleged to be in this instance cannabis.

“I’m not in any way seeking to attach blame to individuals concerned, but there is quite clearly a failure on the part of criminal justice authorities responsible to provide sufficient resources to enable this analysis to be carried out with appropriate expedition.

“As a result us judges are told virtually daily in the bail court there are these enormous delays and they are holding up cases at all levels, both in the Magistrates’ Court and the Crown Court.”

Mr Justice Hart acknowledged public concern at the length of time taken to deal with criminal cases.

But he added: “What is not appreciated by the public, and certainly does not appear to be appreciated by public representatives or those responsible for allocating money for this type of service, is that unless the facilities are available and properly resourced and properly organised the courts cannot deal with cases as rapidly as the courts would wish to do and indeed are able to do.

“As soon as this receives appropriate attention from the relevant authorities the better.”

The NI Justice Minister, David Ford, has stated in the department’s Budget 2011-2015 [pdf file] that one of his priorities is the “redevelopment of the forensic science accommodation at a cost of up to £12m”.

But the detail of proposed spending over the next 4 years show Capital DEL allocations for Forensic Science NI of £0.4m (2011-12), £0.5m (2012-13), £0.4m (2013-14), and £0.3m (2014-15).

Resource DEL for Forensic Science NI budget allocations over the same period are £1.7m (2011-12), £1.7m (2012-13), £2.2m (2013-14) and £1.7m (2-14=15).

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  • FSNI 2020(?) Vision: Our Vision: To be recognised as a provider of comprehensive, integrated forensic science services with a reputation for excellence, quality, innovation and timely delivery. .. source

    “to enable this analysis to be carried out with appropriate expedition.”

    Also from that BBC report: “lawyers told the High Court test results in a drugs case are not due back from the forensic science lab until the end of December.”


  • Cynic2

    Privatise it

  • Rory Carr

    Like they have privatised the court translation services here in England, Cynic? The resulting mayhem should leave those (guilty) accused laughing all the way to eventual dismissal while the innocent accused will have to languish in anxious uncertainty through delay after delay.

  • Lugh

    Ford ……hmmmm, my mother always said if you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all. So here goes…….

  • granni trixie

    My focus in relation to the DOJ relates to victims and so far so good. Other people focus on other aspects of the justice system (eg prisons,courts service,legal aid etc etc).
    So, just for once, (and for the record) I would like to see some recognition on Slugger as to the size and extent of the job of reforming the largest MInistry in NI. The slowness of bringing cases to court is but one of the problems already identified and on DF ‘to do’ list presumably. The Judge named above brings to light but one item in a list of the reasons why this is so.

    The most important point is that the Minister has demonstrated the will to change to improve the justice system. This also proves the benefits of devolution (another debate is why reforms were neglected for so long).