A lengthy analysis in the Lab of forensic science

De longs délais d’analyse au Labo de sciences judiciaires

The increase in the number of cases of sexual assault and records related to the crimes not solved has pushed the time required for analysis at the Laboratory of forensic science and forensic medicine, which requires more workforce to meet the demand.

The workload continues to increase at the Laboratory of forensic science (LSJML), confirms the most recent annual report of the organization. In 2018-2019, more than 13 000 records were processed, compared with some 11 600 the previous year. An increase of 12.7 %.

This situation has had an impact on the time of treatment. Generally, the Laboratory’s goal is to make 75 % of his or her expertise in less than 90 days. The target is reached in all units, with the exception of the biology/DNA, where folders can pile up for six or seven months before being processed.

“There are long delays in biology “, laments Suzanne Marchand, the new director general of the organization and first woman to hold this position. “The demands increase, but resources do not follow. You don’t have the budgets, ” explains she.

Over the past five years, the number of records for sexual assault, requiring analyses of the Laboratory jumped 40 %, a direct result of the movement #MeToo. Same scenario for the ” cold boxes “, which have undergone a significant increase.

Is that different police organizations, including the Sûreté du Quebec, have formed teams dedicated exclusively to crimes not committed in the course of the past few years, thus generating a stream of additional folders, that is often long and complex to analyze.

More resources

“It is correct to form specialized squads. But we, we are at the end of the string. And we forget that in order to treat these cases-there until the end, often, there is the Laboratory, alludes to Ms. Merchant. If the police put a lot of effort and that we, we do not have the organizational capacity to follow, it doesn’t work. “

Considering you have already maximized the resources in place, the director sees only one solution to improve the current delays : the addition of effective.

“No one has more margin of manoeuvre “, expose-it, well aware, however, that its organization under the ministry of public Security, which has its own priorities and budgets to manage.

Legalization of cannabis

The legalization of cannabis has also brought its own set of folders, the Laboratory analyzing the samples in the case of driving with ability impaired by drugs.

Resources have however been added toxicology to treat approximately 1200 cases received per year, which has had no effect on the time, confirms Mrs Marchand.

The pandemic has had little impact on the workload of the scientists of the Laboratory in march and April. A ” slight decrease in the number of records “, however, has been recorded.

After more than 100 years of existence : a first woman at the head of the Lab

After more than 100 years of existence, the Laboratory hosted last November the first woman to head it. Strong of a career in the public and private sectors, Suzanne Marchand succeeds Yves ” Bob ” Dufour, in post for the past 16 years. “I am aware that I have broken through a glass ceiling,” said the one who occupied the position of deputy director.

A graduate in administration from Sherbrooke, Ms. Merchant sees himself as the “conductor” of his team, to which she holds a great admiration. “Stars in the lab, this are them. Me, I organize to ensure they have everything [that] they need to work, ” recalls does it with humility.

While several expressed concern in the last years of the lack of interest of women for science, note that almost 75 % of the 170 employees of the Laboratory are of the female sex.

To the virtopsie and portraits-robots, genetic

The Laboratory should acquire soon the necessary equipment for the realization of virtual autopsies (virtopsies), which allow an examination of the body through medical imaging. A pilot project is underway for more than a year, in collaboration with the Montreal heart Institute.

Other service in the sight of the LSJML : portrait-robot genetics, which provides a snapshot of a potential suspect through his DNA. This technology has already proven its worth, particularly in the United States. “It allows you to determine the shape of the eyes, the nose, the mouth, the hair color, the origin of the person. There is a lot of information ! And when you compare the suspect with the portrait-robot genetic, there are similarities, ” explains Suzanne Marchand.

The Laboratory has also developed during the past year the first draft of the profiling of false identity documents in the country, in making a compendium of, among others, the characteristics of the falsification of hundreds of false driver’s license.

Covid-19 : mode of telework

Pandemic requires, the Laboratory has had to adapt to the new health rules, in spite of the fact that the bulk of the work of the technicians normally must be accomplished in the laboratory.

Since September 2019, the organization was part of a pilot project on telework, which has greatly facilitated the deployment of this measure. A system of staff rotation has been introduced, making it so that 30 % of employees are on a daily basis in the laboratory and 70 % in teleworking.

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