Crime & Justice

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa upgrades Forensic Science Lab

By Javed Khan

Scientists at the KP Police Forensic Science Laboratory in Hayatabad April 3 examine evidence from various crime scenes. [Javed Khan]

Scientists at the KP Police Forensic Science Laboratory in Hayatabad April 3 examine evidence from various crime scenes. [Javed Khan]

PESHAWAR -- The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Police has upgraded the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) to expedite investigations in high-profile cases, especially terrorist attacks.

One upgrade project ended in March, and another began in April and continues today.

"During the past six months, the FSL prepared 25,000 forensic reports and delivered them to the police to help them better investigate their cases," Senior Superintendent of Police Rabnawaz Khan, director of the KP FSL, told Pakistan Forward.

The KP Police asked the provincial government to hire more scientists in a bid to expedite case handling and improve investigations.

As a result, "we are hiring experts for fingerprints, chemical and explosive examination, and other fields," said Khan.

"We are setting up a special wing in the FSL to examine explosives recovered and used in different terrorist attacks and failed attempts to investigate these cases," Khan said.

Previously police had to send explosives and other evidence to the FSL in Lahore because KP lacked the forensics capability, he said.

Authorities are also setting up a special section at the FSL for cyber-crimes, he added.

A busy lab

"During the first three months of the year, 7,890 samples of narcotics, 1,809 firearms, 2,242 cases of serology, 438 suspected vehicles and 201 [samples of] semen were examined by the experts at the FSL," Khan said.

FSL staffers finished all pending cases in the past few months and upgraded their process for delivering forensic reports, he said.

Workers renovated the FSL building in Hayatabad, Peshawar, not long ago, he said, adding that authorities are expanding the laboratories and improving their technology.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) provided funding to revamp the Peshawar FSL and later said it was the second-best forensics laboratory operating in Pakistan, after the FSL in Lahore, he said.

KP Inspector General of Police Salahuddin Khan Mehsud received a briefing in mid-April about the performance of the FSL.

"With revamping of the FSL, the standard of investigation of different cases will further improve," he said, adding that he appreciated the new sections and upgrades made to the laboratory.

New forensics lab in Swat

The KP Police already have finalised preparations for opening an FSL in Swat to expedite investigations throughout Malakand Division.

"The laboratory in Swat will be headed by a deputy superintendent of police and will work under the FSL in Peshawar," Swat District Police Officer Ijaz Ahmad told Pakistan Forward.

The new FSL will accelerate investigations in a number of cases all over Swat and Malakand Division, he said.

The FSL plays a key role in investigations, say police officers.

"The FSL in probing a case is highly important as we immediately send evidence collected from the scene of a crime or terrorist incident to the laboratory for examination," Amir Mohammad, a sub-inspector general of police in Peshawar, told Pakistan Forward.

FSL specialists give their reports "on special paper with an FSL seal", said Mohammad, adding that such paper makes forgery or tampering impossible.

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