With all the reports of crime, it is some good news to report on any progress in the fight against crime. And perhaps the most needed element to crime fighting in Belize is Forensics. The gun is the preferred weapon of choice for criminals to end the lives of other prematurely. As many as eighty murders were committed with firearms last year, many untraceable. Police often confiscate weapons and ammunition from the streets and homes but cannot tie them to crimes committed. Today a workshop for forensic analysts and other stakeholders to alert them to the danger of unlicensed, unregistered weapons on the streets began. English forensic scientist Philip Boyce has been commissioned by the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) to lead the course. He speaks about what the participants will learn:
Philip Boyce – Forensic Scientist:
What I’m actually providing is general standard operating procedures, to give people an idea of all the procedures that they have to cover, in order that they don’t miss examination and that they can actually cover all the evidence. [Balistics] is very important, because you can actually specifically cartridge and bullits back to a specific gun, and to a specific area. What I’ll actually be doing is going to the Forensic Ballistic Laboratory, talking to their personnel, looking at the equipment and the facilities that they’ve got, and recommending any improvements.
What I’ve actually drawn up is a set of 14 standard operating procedures, which give very good general guidelines on the approach to the investigation of forensic ballistics.
According to Boyce, full training in ballistic comparisons takes five years, and part of his task will be to assess Belize’s capabilities in that regard. UNLIREC Programme Coordinator on public security, William Godnick, gives details on other initiatives.
William Godnick – UNLIRED Programme Coordinator:
UNLIREC has been engaged with Police for several years now on developing policies and capabilities to address illicit arms trafficking and also reduce armed violence. Upon the request of the Government and the United kingdom High Commission, they asked us to help develop work on forensic ballistics, and for that reason we have contracted one of the premier world experts in this subject matter, and brought him here to do some training, develop some standard operating procedures, and do some assessment of existing capabilities, to make recommendations for the long term to the Government of Belize.
And former Police Commissioner David Henderson, who now directs the National Forensic Science Service, says he is determined to get this arm of the law up to speed:
David Henderson – National Forensic Science Service:
At present we’re putting in samples, because the system calls whatever we put in, that is what we’ll get out. We’ll put in some samples, and we need to really ensure that we get samples from all different areas, both licence holders and firearms that are involved in incidents, in order that we could identify when they’re involved in a situation.
The course itself takes place in Ladyville at the BDF Price Barracks compound from Tuesday to Friday of this week.