THE Andrews Labor Government has joined Victoria Police to announce the location and commencement of design of a new state-of-the-art forensic hub in Ballarat to target ice and other drugs in Western Victoria.
In Ballarat last week Minister for Police Lisa Neville announced the Western Region Forensic Hub will help keep the community safe by allowing police to solve more crime, faster – with fingerprint, DNA and drug testing taking place at the hub, instead of hours away in Melbourne.
The new hub, one of two in the state, will be located at Mirelle Drive Winter Valley, as a part of the Ballarat West emergency services precinct co-located with the Ballarat West police station.
It will house a team of 12 forensic specialists support staff and the hub will deliver a mix of biological, chemical, digital, botanical, and fingerprint services to help police fast-track investigations into ice and other drug trafficking.
The Labor Government is delivering $11.6 million for two regional forensic hubs in Victoria as part of the $596 million Public Safety Package. It follows plans to build the Latrobe Valley forensic hub, which is due to be operational in 2019.
Advances in forensic technology mean important scientific work can be completed closer to frontline police units – which will especially benefit those in regional areas.
This will help avoid the delay that results from thousands of crime scene exhibits being transported to Melbourne for examination in a central laboratory.
Construction will commence soon, with a full suite of specially trained forensic officers to be in place at the hub when it becomes operational in 2019.
The facility will offer a broad range of forensic services such as enhanced forensic evidence recovery and preliminary analyses.
The Labor Government has also funded the recruitment of 10 new fingerprint experts, technicians and support staff as part of the Public Safety Package, to allow police to better identify and target repeat offenders.
“The new high-tech forensic hub is a further investment in Ballarat and will give police the tools and resources they need to better detect and analyse evidence to help catch criminals,” Ms Neville said.
“We are hoping constriction of this facility will begin by the middle of the year.” Executive Director of Forensics, John Doherty, added “We have the largest forensic capability in Australia, the largest in the southern hemisphere and this is yet another commitment from Government to improve those services even more.” Acting superintendent Trevor Cornwill said this was a fantastic announcement for Ballarat – not only for police but also for the community.
“This is great for local police and police in western Victoria, in general, cutting down on travel times and turnaround times for delivering samples, which will return local police members back to front-line policing,” he said.
“For victims of crime it’s a better turnaround and it will mean cases are solved much more quickly.”