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Troubled forensic lab blows out further – backlog grows to 41,000 cases

The backlog of cases at a forensic DNA lab has increased to more than 41,000 as Queensland’s opposition calls for a strategy to address the beleaguered service.

Apr 22, 2024, updated Apr 22, 2024
Health Minister Shannon Fentiman. (AAP Image/Jono Searle)

Health Minister Shannon Fentiman. (AAP Image/Jono Searle)

Forensic Science Queensland has been under the microscope in recent years over issues with DNA testing with two inquiries into the lab in 2022 and 2023.

In the first inquiry it was revealed many DNA samples went untested and others were incorrectly ruled insufficient by the lab.

An automated DNA extraction method used from 2007 to 2016, known as Project 13, was examined in the second inquiry and was found to yield up to 92 per cent less DNA than the manual technique.

A backlog of 37,000 cases potentially needing re-testing was identified and that had now increased to 41,077, Health Minister Shannon Fentiman revealed in response to parliamentary questions.

On Saturday, LNP shadow attorney-general Tim Nicholls called for greater transparency over the lab’s issues.

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“Like all things you admit the depth of the problem first, and then you can find out how to fix it,” Mr Nicholls said.

“But at the moment, we’re not finding out what the depth of the problem is.

“The information we get has to be extracted like blood out of a stone.”

The government has committed almost $200 million to reforming forensic services and providing support to those affected by the inquiries.

Queensland will also get a forensic science institute, becoming the first state with a dedicated statutory framework governing the provision of forensic services.

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