20 May 2009

PJ Laboratory receives 24 thousand requests per year

by Joana de Belém

The PJ’s Scientific Police Laboratory (SPL) receives one hundred and fifty requests for tests per day, which sum up to two thousand every month. Last year, the SPL received 24 thousand requests. The waiting time “is high”, admits the director of the Scientific Police National Laboratory, where approximately two hundred people work. An “activity that faces the difficulty of the lack of resources and the response within useful time”, says Carlos Farinha.

Nevertheless, the same senior official, who spoke yesterday during the 4th National Congress for Criminology, in Oporto, noted that the Portuguese lab was rated, in an international study whose results were known last week, the sixth best among a total of 71 bodies.

Carlos Farinha also mentioned that the increase in television series like CSI creates some equivocations. “We’re not as good looking as they are, but the main difference is the time notion”, not only as far as test results are concerned but also concerning the data that investigators have access to. “Nobody accesses that much information at the simple touch of a button. Apart from that, if any policeman could access information in that manner, we’d have a big brother, a society without balance between justice and freedom”, the investigator stressed.

Today, at the Polícia Judiciária’s School, in Lisbon, a crime scene practises manual is launched, establishing rules on how to enter, how to mark the investigators’ passage, how to photograph and/or draw a crime scene, among other procedures. “The potentialities in the collection of a certain type of residues are incommensurably different today from what they were years ago”, said Carlos Farinha, according to whom “nowadays the level of collection of elements on location is scarily superior”. Hence, he adds, the need to “reorganise and think about the manner to proceed on a crime scene”.

When questioned about a possible connection between the launch of this manual and the allegedly careless manner how policemen entered, two years ago, into the room of Madeleine McCann – the little English girl that disappeared in the Algarve, in 2007 -, Farrinha asserts that “it’s a reducing perspective”. “I’m not associating this to anything at all”, he concluded.

Presently, the laboratory develops efforts to improve the photofits of missing persons, namely their adjustment to physiognomic changes that take place.

Still during the congress, inspector Jorge Duarte explained the change in the profile of the computer criminal. The first protagonists, in the 90s [the so-called hackers] “weren’t seen as criminals but rather as geniuses, were between 14 and 24 years old, students, generally middle class”. The “social profile has changed, the age has stretched to 34, it includes medium level professionals and re-offenders”, the member of the PJ’s High Technology Criminal Investigation unit explained, adding that, due to the easiness in escaping justice, the number of re-offenders tends to increase over time.

Maria Carneiro, a service chief at the Forensics Medicine Institute, mentioned the few cases of homicidal women. “Women are not as criminal in violent terms as men and the cases where they kill for pleasure are extremely rare”. When that happens, “those are cases of serious psychopathology and generally not imputable”, she concludes.


source: Diário de Notícias, 20.05.2009

2 comments:

  1. ..."a crime scene practises manual is launched, establishing rules on how to enter, how to mark the investigators’ passage, how to photograph and/or draw a crime scene, among other procedures."

    Yes, this is absolutelly necessary, it was long due, even mr. Amaral expressed his opinion on this, saying that there are alredy some models out there, the PJ had only to copy those and apply them to their work.
    BUT, it is also very important that the other police forces, GNR and PSP , are also aware of those procedures so that they are able to apply them when they arrive on the scene, because they are always the first there and must know what to do to preserve the crime scene, and how to do it. Not that this would have mattered in the Maddie case...when the GNR arrived the crime scene had alredy been irreversibly damaged by all the dozens of people who entered the premises with the Tapas9 blessing!

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  2. 6th out of 71 sounds good but I have no idea how many forensic institutions/companies there are in the world?

    I also wonder whether FSS Birmingham were included in this study and if they were 71st? (said, slightly tongue-in-cheek).

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