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Clan lab analysis backlog dropping fast

Hon Phil Goff Minister of Justice

3 September 2004

Clan lab analysis backlog dropping fast

Deep inroads are being made into the backlog of methamphetamine clan lab cases waiting for analysis as a result of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) recruiting extra staff, says Justice Minister Phil Goff.

"In February this year there were 180 clan lab cases waiting for analysis. That figure had been cut to 109 by August, and ESR are on track to have cleared the backlog to a manageable level by the middle of next year," Mr Goff said.

"The reduction is the result of ESR recruiting two more scientists and a technician to its meth analysis team. Another experienced scientist will start work in October, and an extra technician will be hired in support.

"This extensive recruitment was made possible by the government providing an extra $17 million over four years in this year's Budget as part of a $39 million boost to the fight against meth and organised crime."

Mr Goff said the two new scientists working at ESR were recruited on fixed-term contracts, and had previously worked for the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and a specialist lab in Canada. The third scientist starting in October also formerly worked for DEA.

"ESR is also assisting Police and the Courts to address the waiting times for clan lab cases by adopting a case prioritisation system based on court dates, which ensures the most pressing cases are analysed first.

"Since the system was introduced, there have been no further instances of judges criticizing ESR over cases that were not ready to bring before the courts.

"In another initiative, ESR and Crown Law are now taking a case-by-case view of the forensic evidence required to support of clan lab prosecutions.

"In some cases not every piece of evidence needs analysis in order for the prosecution to succeed. That will not hold true for all cases, however, and the level of required analysis is likely to be determined as individual cases proceed through the courts.

"Officials believe this approach has the potential to further reduce analysis backlogs and case delays," Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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