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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Progress made in Queensland’s forensics

SIGNIFICANT progress has been made in the reforming of Queensland’s forensic DNA testing services.

A recent progress report tabled to Queensland Parliament recently outlined the work already done in response to the Commission of Inquiry into Forensic DNA Testing in Queensland, conducted by Walter Sofronoff KC.

The inquiry’s final report, delivered in December 2022, highlighted flawed forensic DNA testing procedures and their impacts on the criminal justice system.

The government accepted all 123 recommendations made in the report and made an immediate initial investment of more than $100 million to support implementation.

To date, 33 have been completed, and a further 57 recommendations are currently underway.

Chief executive officer of Forensic Services Queensland Professor Linzi Wilson-Wilde said building a suitably skilled workforce, a strong leadership team, and processes that will ensure forensic DNA samples are tested to the highest standards has been prioritised.

“The leadership of interim advisory board co-chairs Julie Dick SC and Mr Sofronoff KC has been instrumental in our efforts to overhaul forensic DNA services,” she said.

“This additional investment will provide the capacity needed to reduce the time it takes for testing on matters before the courts, and to work through the cases that are identified as requiring retesting.”

Progress includes ceasing the practice of using any quantitation threshold that stopped further processing of DNA samples, the establishment of Forensic Services Queensland supported by an interim advisory board and expert sub committees, as well as the development of quality, innovation and biology leadership to drive reform of process and practice.

The remaining recommendations focus on long-term reform and are dependent on legislative reform and progress of other recommendations.

This includes renewing forensic science infrastructure, enhancing information technology platforms, managing current criminal justice system impacts, and strengthening the quality and scientific integrity of forensic services.

A large-scale recruitment drive is also underway to source scientists to staff FSQ and help implement recommendations relating to scientific processes.

Nearly 30 scientists have been employed to date, with this new investment allowing the recruitment of the scientists and support required to continue implementation of the recommendations.

Keep up with the latest news in Cairns and the Far North, and check out some of our top stories this week: Locals support Cairns comedy and Leichhardt Lions clinch final for second year in a row.

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