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Forensic weaknesses require steps to build public confidence

16 August, 2007


Sinn Féin Policing Spokesperson, Alex Maskey MLA has said that there remain serious concerns about the capacity, efficiency and even integrity of the Forensic Service after the publication of reports into forensics. He also said that the priority must be to build public confidence in the justice and policing structures and that the transfer of Policing and Justice powers would enable progress.

Mr Maskey said:

"The fact is that time and time again there have been huge question marks over the standard of forensics here in the north.

"There have been deep concerns raised about the capacity, efficiency and even integrity of the Forensic Service with allegations of evidence being tampered with, misplaced or even fabricated.

"In many cases there are serious allegations of both the PSNI and the old DPP interfering in the work of the Forensic Science Agency, a group which is supposed to be independent. In a number of high profile cases such as the Martin Brogan and Mark Carroll or Noel Abernethy cases there were clear concerns about the fabrication of evidence.

"It is essential that the skills are there to carry out forensic testing but we must also ensure that there are proper checks and balances are in place to make sure that there is no interference in the process required to bring criminals to account.

"This is about the much wider question of confidence in the policing and justice structures.

"For example we also need to ensure that the Public Prosecution Service is fully accountable. Decision making across entire justice and policing structures must by open and transparent.

"Sinn Fein believes that the transfer of Policing and Justice powers to locally accountable politicians is at the heart of achieving improvements and in building public confidence." ENDS

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