Increase crime lab capacity, governments told

Evidence backlogs delaying charge-laying, hindering courts

The demand for, and backlog of, biological and other forensic services at the National Forensic Lab Services negatively impacts the efficiency and effectiveness of an investigation and ability to proceed with the laying of charges, UBCM delegates heard| Photo: digicomphoto/Getty Images

Canadian forensic lab services capacity for crime investigations needs to be increased, Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) annual conference delegates agreed Sept. 15.

A resolution, approved by 95.2% as part of a block of resolutions, said RCMP must preserve and organize information and evidence collected in investigations in order to assist Crown cases.

And, it said, under the Crown Counsel Act, a prosecutor is required to “examine all relevant information and documents and, following the examination, to approve for prosecution any offence or offences that he or she considers appropriate.”

As such, the demand for, and backlog of, biological and other forensic services at the National Forensic Lab Services (NFLS) negatively impacts the efficiency and effectiveness of an investigation and ability to proceed with the laying of charges.

So, UBCM delegates approved a resolution to petition the provincial and federal governments to increase working capacity at NFLS for greater provision of forensic services in biology, firearms, toxicology and trace evidence in order to better meet the necessary timelines of RCMP investigations across Canada.

The resolution said over the past several years, federal budget cuts have reduced NFLS capacity.

Further, in July 2019, UBCM delivered correspondence requesting that the RCMP reconsider a decision to reduce the number of firearms used in crimes that would be sent to federal laboratories for testing.

As a result of the reduction in forensic services, the BC Task Force on Illegal Firearms, in 2017, recommended B.C. build its own firearms tracing.

Another resolution, approved by 85.3% called for a petition to the B.C. Prosecution Service to work with all police agencies in the province to improve efficiencies in disclosure and information management practices in order to reduce delays in charges being laid for the prosecution of criminal offences.

jhainsworth@glaciermedia.ca

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