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Police on the hunt for new DNA services provider

Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police Nicholas Pedro (File photograph)

A new deal is to be struck for a laboratory to deliver DNA test services to the police.

Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police Nicholas Pedro said the search was launched in a bid to get the best value for money.

A Request for Quotations on the Government website explained that the Bermuda Police Service invited proposals from accredited laboratories “for specialised deoxyribonucleic acid – DNA – analysis, testing, comparing services and database management”.

Mr Pedro said: “The BPS has had contracts with two former vendors and, in our quest to get absolute best value for money for the Bermuda taxpayer, we have undertaken a search to find a new provider that can provide services that will deliver value and justice for Bermuda in a timely manner.

“The RFP noted on the Government website is a procurement document, seeking bids to provide these services to the Bermuda Police Service.

“This is in line with the Good Governance Act 2011, to provide transparency and accountability around the procurement and contracting of services to the Government.

“This is entirely a normal process that has been used for these services in the past.”

Mr Pedro explained that police has used DNA in evidence for about 15 years.

He added: “This science has been admitted in dozens of criminal trials, including for murder, shootings, sexual assaults, burglaries and the whole range of criminal offences.

“In reality, the use of DNA has become integral to our successful prosecution in many offences.

“That is not to say that prosecutions cannot be successful without DNA, as there are many circumstances that would not require DNA to prove a prima facie case.”

Mr Pedro said that the Police and Criminal Evidence Act allowed police to collect DNA samples, which were stored in a BPS-owned database.

He added: “Examination of DNA samples are undertaken by an International Organisation for Standardisation accredited DNA laboratory.”

Mr Pedro, who is in charge of the crime division, said that DNA samples were taken from people arrested for alleged offences.

He added: “The BPS database now holds approximately 7,354 known samples that are used to match to exhibit samples recovered from crime scenes, in accordance with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.”

Helix Genetic and Scientific Solutions provided DNA services to the police in the past.

Mr Pedro said that an “interim vendor” in Canada was hired after the contract with Helix ended earlier this year.

He added: “The ongoing need for any vendor will be for the vendor to meet ISO standards, meet critical and contractually mandated deadlines, and provide access to the latest technologies in this area to identify suspects from criminal investigations.

“The laboratory will also have to provide witness services to present their evidentiary findings in court, as has been done extensively in many criminal trials going back several years.

“The Bermuda Police Service prides itself on using the latest proven technologies such as DNA, to bring offenders to justice.”

Mr Pedro did not say what the value of the contract might be, but he explained that service providers usually charged a “per sample” price to process a specimen.

He added: “Depending on what we ask them to do with that sample, and how many we ask them to do, that will affect the price.”

Mr Pedro said the service maintained its own database.

He added: “We spend about $8,000 on an annual software fee and currently about $3,000 a month on database management and technical support.”

A Government procurement notice said: “A well-established forensic infrastructure is crucial to a successful justice system in Bermuda.

“The quality and accuracy of forensic investigations and examinations have an extensive impact on the quality of justice and the overall perception of the justice system by the litigants and other users.”

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Published November 04, 2021 at 7:53 am (Updated November 04, 2021 at 7:46 am)

Police on the hunt for new DNA services provider

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