Delivering forensic services

(Report 21: 2018–19)

Audit objective

The objective of this audit was to assess whether agencies deliver forensic services efficiently and effectively in order to investigate crime and prosecute offenders.

Overview

Police, prosecutors, and the courts rely on a range of forensic services to help them identify, exonerate, prosecute and convict people suspected of committing crimes. Forensic services involve analysing many different types of physical evidence such as drugs, fingerprints, and blood. It also includes forensic medical examinations.

Recommendations

Queensland Police Service and Queensland Health

We recommend that the Queensland Police Service and Queensland Health:

1. implement a governance structure to effectively coordinate and provide accountability for managing forensic services across agencies

The terms of reference should include: 

  • identifying current and future demand and the required resources for forensic services
  • establishing processes to capture the extent and impact of delays from forensic services, including the impact on courts
  • implementing a performance framework to measure and report on the effectiveness and efficiency of forensic services. This should include ensuring each agency has appropriate performance targets
  • ongoing consultation with the Department of Justice and Attorney-General about the delivery of forensic services and impact on the justice system. (Chapters 2 and 3)

2. implement a process to coordinate and manage collecting, transporting, prioritising, and destroying illicit drugs. The revised process should reduce the risks to security, occupational health and safety, and the cost of unnecessary handling (Chapter 2).

Queensland Police Service

We recommend that the Queensland Police Service:

3. improves its quality assurance processes and practices to ensure all police property facilities conduct an annual audit of all property and exhibits. These audits should be standardised and documented, with findings reported to senior management (Chapter 3).

Department of Health

We recommend that the Department of Health, in collaboration with the Queensland Police Service and all hospital and health services:

4. continues to develop and deliver reforms to forensic medical examinations to improve services to victims, including:

  • implementing service agreements to deliver forensic medical examinations
  • developing strategies to recruit and retain appropriately trained physicians and nurses for forensic medical examinations across the state
  • implementing a range of reporting pathways and supporting processes for all victims requiring forensic medical examinations
  • improving clinician’s awareness of reporting options for victims of sexual assault
  • improving the availability of, and access to, paediatric services for child victims of sexual assault
  • establishing local interagency support services which better integrate clinicians, police and non-government services (Chapter 2).

Queensland Police Service, Queensland Health and Department of Justice and Attorney-General

We recommend that the Queensland Police Service, Queensland Health and the Department of Justice and Attorney-General:

5. improve the prioritisation and timely sharing of case information between agencies. This should include establishing systems and processes (and where possible automation) to ensure there is real-time notification of changes in priority or status to avoid unnecessary analysis (Chapter 3). 

Other reports and resources

Criminal justice system—reliability and integration of data (Report 14: 2016–17)
Health: 2017–18 results of financial audits (Report 13: 2018–19)