DNA labs facing huge backlog

Canadians and Americans failing to meet target processing times for thousands of forensic DNA samples

Jeffrey M. Perkel
May 20, 2007
Canadian and American forensic DNA labs are facing a backlog of thousands of DNA samples, missing target turnaround times and frustrating the lawyers and suspects who depend on the data. A report released this month by the Auditor General of Canada has criticized the Forensic Laboratory Services (FLS) of the Canadian police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), for long delays in completing DNA forensic testing work. The average FLS turnaround time for a biological sample in 2005-06 was 114 days, up from 91 days in 2003-04, and nearly four times the target turnaround time of 30 days for routine cases. The FLS sample backlog grew from 663 in April 2003 to 873 in March 2006, not counting a queue of 760 cases that the RCMP has not yet accepted. American forensic DNA specialists are facing an even larger sample queue. According to Robert Fram, Chief of the...