Opposition leader Allen Chastanet has called for firearms examination and analysis expertise in Saint Lucia while lauding the forensic Lab’s current accreditation status.
The Office of the Prime Minister recently announced that with the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation, the local laboratory has become the first and, currently, the only accredited forensic laboratory in the OECS and the second accredited forensic Lab in the entire CARICOM region.
Chastanet said on Facebook that as Saint Lucia continues to battle rising crime, forensic evidence is vital in assisting the police in crime solving.
For that reason, the former Prime Minister congratulated the director of the Forensic Lab and the entire team on the accreditation milestone.
“Getting this accolade has not been easy, and Fernanda Henry truly has an unwavering passion for seeing this Lab succeed,” the Micoud South MP asserted.
He attributed the success to the hard work of Henry and her team.
And Chastanet recalled that further enhancement of the Forensic Lab formed part of his administration’s Medium Term Development Strategy for dealing with crime and justice.
“During our tenure in office, we made investments to significantly increase the capabilities of the Forensic Laboratory, allowing it to contribute meaningfully to the investigative arm of the Royal St Lucia Police Force,” the former Prime Minister stated.
Chastanet said the Lab was able to clear a large backlog of cases and assist in solving major crimes, including murders and rapes.
” In the past, Saint Lucia would have spent millions on outsourcing of DNA services, and in our term, we purchased two pieces of equipment to upgrade the DNA unit, reduce turnaround time and increase output. We also made needed allocations for additional staffing,” he noted.
“We had other plans for the Forensic Lab, which we hope the Government will continue in the interest of the people of Saint Lucia and in the interest of solving crimes and bringing a level of closure to the victims and their families,” Chastanet stated.
“We want to see the Scenes of Crime Unit and the Lab work more closely together and the launch of a new area of expertise called Firearms Examination & Analysis. Saint Lucia needs this now more than ever as we continue to grapple with increased gun-related crimes and more high-powered weapons on our streets,” he declared.
The former Finance Minister disclosed that his administration had allocated for this programme in his last budget.
“I am hopeful it proceeds as this new technology will assist the Police Force in connecting gun violence to perpetrators,” he said.
” This is one area we cannot afford to politicise, and there must be continuity,” the United Workers Party (UWP) leader observed.