DNA testing equipment purchased, no more waiting time on overseas testing

One month after the Guyana Police Force (GPF) had vented its frustration at the lack of capacity to conduct DNA testing locally, Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn said the machines have already been purchased, and would be put into operation soon.
During a briefing on Tuesday, Minister Benn said he was aware of the problems the CID faced in regard to DNA testing, and is happy to announce that the machines have already been paid for. Having DNA testing done in Guyana, he said, would minimise the waiting time involved in sending samples overseas for testing.
“…within a couple of months after they have done the testing, we will be in possession…to do our own DNA testing in Guyana. The Guyana Forensic (Sciences Lab) will not have to wait to get DNA testing overseas. We no longer have the delay of burials for cases where the bodies or the remains are still waiting,” he said.
Benn said crime and criminality are one of the greatest hindrances to national development, and over the years, crime and criminality have had an extreme effect on Guyana, and it is time for this to change.
“The statistics we speak of are not mere statistics in themselves…the reduction we speak of over two years speaks to the improvement in the quality of the delivery of policing in our country, and this ought to be recognised…I want the Guyana Police Service to be the best Policing Service in the Caribbean…”, he said.
Meanwhile, acting Police Commissioner Clifton Hicken, during his feature address, said the Police have done excellent work during the year, and their professionalism was evident in the way they went about executing their duties.
“It is important to note that, for us to maintain our posture in terms of professionalism, it is necessary that we develop capacity; and the most important resource is our human resources,” the Commissioner has posited.
During a press conference organised by the GPF in November, Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum had expressed frustration at not having the equipment to do DNA testing. He had said the criminal justice system was seeing a backlog of more than 20 cases due to the country’s inability to conduct such testing. While he could not have stated for how long that backlog had existed, the Crime Chief had said it had been ongoing for some time now.
“The lack of capacity to conduct DNA testing indeed is affecting us, because many of the cases are before the court, and there is a huge backlog. It is quite expensive to send these samples overseas. We were able to get some to a lab in Miami recently, but we still have a backlog, and we’re hoping that that situation can be resolved as early as possible,” he had said.
It was announced in May of this year that Guyana’s DNA testing capabilities were set for a massive upgrade with procurement of the new equipment, which cost the state some US$300,000. It has been reported that even though the Guyana Forensic Science Laboratory can perform DNA testing, there are challenges when those tests are to be conducted on badly decomposed bodies, and in other circumstances where sampling is poor. Currently, the Forensic Lab can conduct DNA testing for comparison or matching evidence to suspects, paternity testing, and family mapping. (G9)