The ‘chronic shortage’ of police forensic staff is hampering investigations and the problem is only likely to worse in the future, according to police union NPB.
The union has now written to justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus expressing its concerns about the severe shortage of forensic staff and calling on the government to take action.
The national police’s forensics department has a current workforce of 1,500 but needs about three times that number, the union said. Budget cuts and the ageing police population are among the reasons for the shortfall which is only likely to get worse in the future. Some 40% of staff are currently over the age of 55.
The ‘chronic shortage of manpower in forensics’, is putting excessive strain on the staff, union chief Jan Struijs said in the letter. The average waiting time for DNA tests is currently 60 days, and crime scenes are not being examined completely.
‘The number of requests for forensic investigations has increased enormously, and the government’s response to this has been inadequate,’ Struijs said.
The workload and the stress of having to deal with human suffering on a day-to-day basis are taking its toll on the staff, with absenteeism averaging 9% in the last five years.
The union is urging the minister to ‘recognise the severity of the situation’, and to ‘come up with an integral plan to improve working conditions.’