Police Force still grappling with DNA testing
Government working to procure new machine
One of the major challenges plaguing the Guyana Police Force is a lack of capacity to conduct deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing at the Guyana Forensic Science Laboratory, which has contributed to the backlog of cases before the courts.
This was highlighted by Crime Chief and Deputy Commissioner (Law Enforcement) (ag) Wendell Blanhum during the recent launch of launching of the Force’s Christmas Policing Plan.
“The lack of capacity to conduct DNA testing indeed is affecting us because many of the cases are before the courts and there is a huge backlog, it is quite expensive to send these samples overseas,” Blanhum said.
Blanhum revealed that there are over 20 cases that are affected by the lack of capacity to conduct the testing locally, however, the Force has secured a laboratory in the United States while the situation is being resolved.
“We were able to get some to a lab in Miami recently but we still have a backlog and we’re hoping that situation can be resolved as early as possible,” he said.
Speaking to the media at the event, Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn said that while a machine was procured, the manufacturer of the machine was acquired by another company and that company later discontinued manufacturing the machine and its components.
“So, we are now going again to get the monies get another perhaps more better machine which will be supported by reagents and technical interventions,” Benn said, noting that the machine will be procured “fairly soon”.
Blanhum further noted that the lack of capacity to conduct DNA testing is not the only challenge the Police Force faces but there are also other factors.
The Force’s work is also affected by a high rate of recidivism, poor quality of closed-circuit television (CCTV) images obtained at crime scenes, porous borders, and police corruption.
He noted that based on feedback received by the Force, the high rate of recidivism is caused by a number of factors including former convicts’ inability to secure employment.
“Some also reported to us that they have many persons who rely on them financially and it’s very difficult for them to provide so they have to live a life of crime and they’re many other factors,” he said.