We worked closely with Jes from The Jes Foord Foundation and Roger and Pat de la Harpe from Africa Imagery. Thank you too to Fran Simmons and Karen Edwards. Watch this space for more exciting developments with this project!
Archive for April, 2012
Staff at “over-stretched” forensic science laboratories face “burn-out” after an instruction by the Treasury for the police to cut back on hiring in the coming year.
Lieutenant General Johannes Phahlane, the SA Police Service divisional commissioner for forensic services, told the parliamentary portfolio committee on police on Thursday that staff at forensic science laboratories (FSLs) were stretched to their limits with work.
“With the limited capacity which is there they are over-stretched. It is beginning to impact negatively on us. Among other things we were sourcing overtime out of compensation, but you can’t stretch them [the staff] forever because they are human. They are going to burn out.”
Phahlane said the “resolve” to retain forensic experts would go “down the drain” if the police was not allowed to go ahead with a plan to employ 800 FSL staff.
The police had spent a lot of money on training forensic staff, but risked losing them.
“It has already started happening,” he said.
“Until the end of March my plan was to go and hire people. Then I got the e-mail to say you don’t have this money anymore.
“My question is, how am I supposed to continue improving the environment if I don’t have those resources?”
Acting national police commissioner General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi told MPs he could “imagine” the problems after the Treasury’s decision.
“We will try and engage with them. Unfortunately we have the instruction in black and white.”
SAPS chief financial officer, Lieutenant General Stefan Schutte, said normally 5 000 staff resigned from the service each year.
“If you want to grow you have to appoint more than 5 000,” he said.
“What we will be able to appoint is 1 200 of 5 000, which implies a reduction.”
Committee chairperson Sindi Chikunga said the committee strongly disagreed with the Treasury’s approach.
“We are of the view that FSL must be strengthened. We will do everything possible to look into this matter. It is one area that is specialising in SAPS and we need those services.
“They have a direct impact on the manner in which we will be able to improve our conviction rate.”
Democratic Alliance MP Dianne Kohler Barnard said the Treasury would have to explain itself to the committee.
“I don’t think we can have the Treasury determining that [the] SAPS won’t have the ability to sign on sufficient experts to implement the bills we spend day and night passing. It is absolutely outrageous.”
Parliament, she said, had “jumped through a thousand hoops” to pass various pieces of police legislation, like the fingerprint bill and DNA bill. [note: the DNA Bill has not yet been passed]
To implement these laws required experts, realignment and new staff, she said.
“I would strongly advise this committee pull in the people who took this decision and ask them to explain themselves. The police have now been hamstrung and cannot implement the bills we have passed. I find this autocratic and absolutely outrageous in face of the reality [the] SAPS is facing.”
New York became the first “all crimes DNA” state in the USA after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill requiring anyone convicted of a felony or penal law misdemeanor to provide a sample for the state’s DNA Database.
“I am proud to sign this bill today because this modern law enforcement tool will not only help us solve and prevent crimes but also exonerate the innocent,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo in a statement. “The bottom line is that this is a tool that works, and will make the state safer for all New Yorkers.”
Currently, according to The Ithaca Journal, “people found guilty of any felony and 36 misdemeanors — 48 percent of offenders in New York — have to give a DNA sample for the databank.” The new “all crimes” law, which will include misdemeanors like fare-jumping and shoplifting, goes into effect on October 12th of this year.
“This legislation is a major step forward in eliminating wrongful convictions in New York,” said Jonathan Lippman, New York’s chief judge. “The legislation takes an even-handed, balanced approach to this problem, particularly by expanding the access of convicted offenders — not only those convicted after trial, but also those who pleaded guilty — to DNA testing.”
Since its launch in 1996, the DNA Databank has been used in 2,900 convictions and helped exonerate 27 New Yorkers who were wrongfully convicted. Lawmakers in Albany have expanded the database three times– in 1999, 2002, and 2006.
There is an exemption in the new law for those convicted of possession of a small amount of marijuana as long as they have no prior convictions.
Extract of the above Article was taken from
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