The ‘tough on crime’ Conservative government has no problem with the fact that there is a huge backlog in evidence processing at the RCMP (Mounties) forensics lab. In response to concerns from police in New Brunswick, currently investigating the murder of Richard Oland, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said that if the provinces want to see improvements, they should pay for them.
Approximately 70 percent of RCMP forensic services are used by other police forces across Canada.
Richard Oland was a prominent businessman in Saint John, New Brunswick. No one has been arrested or charged in the case, which the police believe was murder. According to an affidavit obtained by CBC News, the investigators in the Oland case are only able to send a few pieces of evidence at a time. A year after the case began, they still have a pile of evidence waiting to be sent for processing.
This situation doesn’t seem to vibe with the Harper government’s assertion that they are focussing on the victim’s rights and punishing criminals as swiftly as possible.
In May 2012, the RCMP announced that it would be closing three of their six forensics labs across the country by 2014. The decision was made despite a 2011 audit that showed labs were not keeping up with demand. The closing of labs in Halifax, Winnipeg and Regina is supposed to save $3.5 million a year – which doesn’t seem like a very high cost to pay for faster answers. The decision was made at a time when the labs were reportedly seeing requests from other police forces almost double. The officer in charge of forensics felt certain that the lab closures would streamline their services.
Clearly, that hasn’t happened.
Photo Credit: West Midlands Police