The Queensland government Thursday accepted the findings of a DNA Inquiry regarding “maladministration” in a Queensland forensics laboratory. The state government pledged $95 million to improve their forensics services and proposed possible plans to reform double jeopardy laws.
The four month inquiry found multiple issues with the Queensland DNA facility including reporting problems, mismanagement and dishonesty by senior members of staff. The report also criticised the methods and systems used, as the laboratory’s proccesses do not “measure up to best practice” and have “failed to produce quality results” due to their inability to keep up with developing science. According to the commission, the laboratory was too “focused on . . . quick reporting of results to the detriment of high quality science.”
Following these findings, Queensland authorities announced their plans to “drive significant reforms to DNA and forensics services.” Of their $95 million investment, $10 million will be committed to support for victims, and $3.8 million will go towards the Director of Public Prosecutions to make case management and assessment of witness statements more efficient. Several new measures will be immediately introduced, such as the creation of Forensic Science Queensland, an independent Board of Management and a Forensic DNA Science Advisory Sub Committee. The committees are set to be established in January to provide “independent, expert oversight and ensure scientific integrity.”
Proposals of reform for double jeopardy laws in Queensland have also arisen following the report. Currently, those acquitted of murder can be put to trial again if the prosecution find “fresh and compelling” evidence that was unavailable at the original trial. Attorney General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentimen wants to expand this law to cover offences such as sexual assault and rape. She hopes to propose a relevant bill in the coming year.
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