Government of St. Kitts and Nevis Commended for Investing Heavily in Forensic Science
Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 02, 2022 (SKNIS): The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis came in for high praise for its investment in forensic science which continues to reap significant benefits in the Federation.
“St. Kitts has invested greatly in the science and I can proudly say that over the past three (3) years we have seen a significant decrease in homicides and crime, and have accomplished major links due to the science and combined efforts of investigators,” said Latoya Lake-Marshall, Forensic Director/Forensic Crime Scene Expert & Criminologist of the Royal St. Christopher & Nevis Police Force, on Tuesday’s (March 01) edition of Leadership Matters. “I would like to openly commend the Government, under the leadership of Dr. Timothy Harris, for taking the bold approach in recognizing that scientific investigation is indeed the most effective and efficient method in crime fighting worldwide.”
Mrs. Lake-Marshall said that in 2011 there was a peak in homicides where St. Kitts and Nevis experienced 35 for that year alone, with a solvability rate of 25 percent. In 2014, the solvability rate was 33 percent and 21 percent in 2015. She said that the Team Unity Administration saw the need to address the situation and this resulted in her placement in 2018, along with the implementation of other programmes targeted at reduction.
“As early as last year, reductions in homicide were significant, [with] 54 percent [solvability] for the Federation; St. Kitts showed 66 percent and Nevis 25 percent. In 2018, 16 links were made via our AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems); serious crimes to include rape, robbery, murder – 20 out of 23 matters solved. In 2019, we had a solvability rate within our department of 69.57 percent at the beginning of that year and we increased by year end to 86 percent,” she said. “Of those percentages, solvability on a high scale was due to the effects of science, ballistics, AFIS Systems and DNA analysis. Major links via DNA were evident where recent links to rape, robbery and murder were made in 2021, where one suspect was positively linked to six (6) scenes. Additionally, in ballistics, we have linked this year, a double homicide, to a particular firearm.”
Commenting on the importance of the application of forensic science, Mrs. Lake-Marshall said that it has significant implications on the outcome of court matters.
“Our service is relied upon heavily by the Courts to strengthen evidence brought before them, as scientific proof serves as a definitive approach to convictions or exonerations as opposed to the past where circumstantial evidence was the sole solvent,” said Mrs. Lake-Marshall. “Clearly, an investigator’s aim is to positively get a conviction on a case in some instances, but within the function of the forensic specialist we are to guide investigators as to if that suspect is, in fact, via scientific results, the perpetrator or not. Please be guided that not all scenes possess forensic potential. There are some matters where forensic techniques cannot apply and direct and circumstantial evidence must bear weight.”
Important to note, the forensic director said that forensic science is a biological and technological process used in the criminal justice system to positively detect criminal activity and offenders. She noted that the Forensic Lab in the Federation is fully operational.