Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds, centre, and officials from the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service. Photo: T&T Parliament
By Sue-Ann Wayow
THE Trinidad and Tobago Forensic Science Centre in St James is operating at half its pathologist staffing capacity and is soon to get a pathologist of Indian nationality.
Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds made the announcement to the Standing Finance Committee in Parliament on Wednesday revealed that the pathologist was a “man of high record” and is expected to start work almost immediately.
He was hired through the aid of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Hinds said.
Hinds was questioned by Member of Parliament for Naparima Rodney Charles if an increased allocation of $344,000 for salaries and cost of living will be sufficient enough, to which the minister responded that provisions would be made if needed in the mid-year Budget Review.
Charles also questioned the operations of the centre and Hinds said four pathologists were needed and two pathologists were currently employed.
Hinds said, “We have taken a decision to bring it to its optimum level. The process is now ongoing to invite young bright citizens of T&T who are so inclined which will be advertised promptly or shortly for scholarships in this regard.
“This is not new, this has been done before and persons were recruited as pathologists to the Forensic Science Centre to the service of the people of Trinidad and Tobago on that basis in the past.”
When further questioned by Member of Parliament for Chaguanas West Dinesh Rambally if the work of the centre was being affected given the issue of short staff, Hinds replied that he has no reports of any inconvenience or a pile-up of autopsies waiting to be conducted.
However, he admitted that the two pathologists were being asked to perform extra duties being aware that they were allowed to conduct only a particular number of autopsies annually.
Referring to the general operations of the centre, Hinds said there were 77 posts, 40 filled, 37 vacant posts, 11 without bodies and 26 vacant posts with bodies.
With bodies means that someone is acting in the post while without bodies means that one is in the vacant post.
He also asked by Member of Parliament for Barataria/San Juan Saddam Hosein about staffing for the Ballistic Department that deals with the examination of evidence from firearms that may have been used in a crime.
Hinds said before he became minister, 25 persons were specifically trained in dealing with ballistics who continue to work at the Centre.
He told Hosein, “Action is being taken internally to ensure that we get optimum efforts from the Forensic Science Centre with a view to eliminating the backlog that you correctly identified.”