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).