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New Forensic Lab at Milton Cato Memorial Hospital

New Forensic Lab at Milton Cato Memorial Hospital


Drug testing will now be executed more expeditiously, thanks to the opening of a Forensic Laboratory at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital on Friday, April 17, 2009.

The state of the art, $1.5 million testing facility, will soon see the end to drugs being sent abroad for testing.{{more}} Instead of defendants and prosecutors waiting for months on end for results, the facility here can produce results in as little as two weeks.

Addressing the brief opening ceremony, Security Advisor to the Prime Minister, Sir Vincent Beache, said that the idea of a Forensic Laboratory came about in 2001 when the ULP administration took office, but their immediate plans suffered some major setbacks.

Beache said he recognized the problems facing the law courts in relation to the length of time taken to the test drugs and the cost associated with these tests. He said that most persons charged with drug offences were freed on technicalities because of the length of time taken to test the drugs. Beache says he hopes to see the facility extended in the near future to do Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) testing.

However, for the first six months, drug testing will be done simultaneously in St Vincent and Barbados in order to ensure the accuracy of results.

Deputy Director/Forensic Scientist and head of the DNA section at the Forensics Sciences Centre in Barbados, Lorraine Alleyne, welcomed the St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Government’s effort to provide the country’s first drug testing facility. Alleyne said that the government, as well as police throughout the region, recognize the value of forensic evidence in fighting crime and the court process. The scientist noted that although the lab is not a full-fledged one, it is of an international standard with persons trained at the highest standards.

The lab will mainly be used for testing commonly used drugs such as cocaine and marijuana. Other drugs will also be tested in the near future. Part of the facility’s mandate will be to train police officers in sampling and submission protocols.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Bertie Pompey, praised the Government’s initiative to set up the facility. Noting that there is a proliferation of gun crimes here in St Vincent, Pompey stated that he is hoping that DNA and ballistic testing could soon be implemented to help in crime fighting.

Forensic Scientist Antoinette Fraser and Forensic Technologist Nezika Haniff will perform the testing at the lab. (KW)