Flanagan confirms backlog of 2,800 unanalysed drug cases

Minister for Justice says issue is not impacting on Garda prosecutions in courts

 Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan allayed concerns that the backlog is impacting on Garda prosecutions in the courts. Photograph: Eric Luke

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan allayed concerns that the backlog is impacting on Garda prosecutions in the courts. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has confirmed that the backlog in unanalysed drug cases at Forensic Science Ireland (FSI) currently stands at 2,800.

However, he moved to allay concerns that the backlog is impacting on Garda prosecutions in the courts.

In response to a Dáil question on the issue from Fianna Fáil Justice spokesman, Jim O’Callaghan, Mr Flanagan said: “There has not been any impact on the Garda’s efforts to enforce the law and there have not been any prosecutions lost on foot of this backlog.

“In the first six months of 2017, 4,099 drugs cases were submitted to Forensic Science Ireland for analysis. A total of 4,444 drugs cases were analysed and reports generated by Forensic Science Ireland in that period.

Reduction

“Additional staff have been assigned to the drugs area in FSI and it is planned to assign 10 additional scientists to the area later in 2017 as they are recruited. These measures are expected to lead to a progressive reduction in the backlog.”

The Irish Times reported earlier this month that the establishment of the national DNA database has overwhelmed the State laboratory with work and has led to the build-up of a large backlog in the testing of illegal drug seizures.

The backlog means the laboratory is unable to test some illegal drug seizures within the required six-month time frame, although this has not yet resulted in any cases collapsing in court.