Traditional police culture hinders scientific investigation of crimes


LAHORE: The traditional police culture offers hurdles to the scientific investigation of crimes by the scientists of Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA), a PFSA scientist told Pakistan Today.

Speaking to Pakistan Today, a PFSA scientist, who wanted to remain anonymous, said that senior police officials created hurdles in the way of scientific investigation of crimes. He said that according to protocol, police and forensic scientists had to work together and the police were bound to take forensic scientists’ assistance in the collection of evidence during investigations of crimes. However, the police seldom sought scientists’ assistance, he lamented.

He also said that police often destroyed evidence that went against important people who were involved in sophisticated crime.

He further said that on paper, it was the duty of the Crime Scene Investigation Unit of PFSA to ensure the proper identification, preservation, collection and transportation of evidence from the crime scene to the laboratory, and to maintain a proper chain of custody of the evidence. However the police took it upon themselves to transport evidentiary material in sealed boxes to the evidence collection unit of PFSA, frequently damaging or even destroying it in the process, he said.

The police, with their traditional mindset, do not believe that others could make investigations, said the source. He recalled the incident of a powerful explosion in Y-Block market of DHA Lahore earlier this year, which left 10 people dead and injured 20 others, when a spokesperson from Punjab Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) made the statement that the blast ‘seems to have been made by some explosives’. He said that it was the job of forensic scientists and not the CTD to make that assessment.

However, when PFSA Director Administration Muhammad Akram was contacted, he countered these allegations saying that all was well with police relations and that the agency had no complaint against them. ‘Police and Punjab Counter Terrorism Department fully cooperate with the agency. In fact, if the police have any complaints against us, they should tell us directly. We are doing everything to assist the police in every possible way,’ Akram said.

About the explosion in Y-Block market, he said that the CTD official had made a mistake as he had been under pressure from journalists to make a statement.

In response to a question about damaged evidence being received from police, Akram said that whenever police gave the PFSA incomplete evidence, it was returned to them and PFSA did not pursue the case.

PFSA is spread over 53 kanals in Thokar Niaz Baig and runs 14 disciplines under one roof. It has expanded its operations to eight divisional headquarters in Punjab at a cost of Rs 266 million. It claims to have trained over 8,000 personnel in law enforcement agencies all over the country and to have helped the United States, Norway, United Kingdom, Egypt and many other countries to solve high-profile cases. The agency has plans of establishing a forensic science laboratory and a specialized university.