Written Answers. - Drug Seizures.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

153 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the average length of time in determining the type of illegal substance found on suspects in the Dublin area; the steps, if any, he will take to ensure that this time is reduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22279/98]

The period of time spent analysing and determining the type of illegal substances found on suspects in the Dublin metro-politan area varies widely according to the nature of the case. For instance, the Deputy will be aware of a number of major seizures in Dublin last weekend, when the forensic analysis was completed and the report written by last Sunday night. At the other end of the scale, for instance, a request made for analysis of minute traces from a suspect's pocket, which might not have any evidential value, but which may be required for Garda record purposes, would receive very little priority and may take weeks, even months, to complete. In this context, an "average" delay, if it could be worked out scientifically, would be seriously misleading if it were to lead people to believe that all cases were to take such time. In view of the increasing number of cases dealt with by the laboratory the staffing requirements are regularly reviewed by my Department.