Karnataka: Forensic science officers to be among team of first responders at crime scenes


In a couple of months, Karnataka police will be the first in the country to engage Scene of Crime (SoC) officers from the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) at crime scenes.

Like in the West, the SoC team will be the first responders. They shall gather DNA, fingerprint and other vital samples at once.

Until the arrival of the SoC team, police will cordon off the spot to avoid contamination.

“The first responders should be the SoC officials from the FSL. Once they are done collecting samples, they can hand the spot over to the police. This is the practice in many western countries. Karnataka will be the first state to follow this in India,” said state police chief Praveen Sood.

The department has recruited 54 scientific officers and appointed them already. Another 84 positions are in the pipeline for whom recruitment is on and they will be inducted into the five Regional Forensic Science Laboratories (RFSL) by November. A total of around 140 scientific officers will be inducted at the five RFSLs.

According to the DGP, at present, charge sheets are delayed because FSL reports do not come on time, due to massive pendency.

“Our analysis shows pendency at three sections – cybercrime, DNA and handwriting. These three sections are only in Bengaluru.

Therefore we are going to set up these sections at regional FSLs. The DNA is for offences against women, especially sexual assaults and handwriting for cheating cases,” Sood said.

For the first time in Karnataka and in the country, the police department has sent 54 scientific officers to Gujarat for training at the National Forensic Science University, the first university of its kind here.

They will also go to Central Forensic Science Laboratory in Hyderabad in the second phase of training, and in the third phase, under the guidance of the Karnataka police department.

“These scientific officers will undergo training for a year at the institution and another year in the field,” the DGP explained.

“Around 206 SoC officials have been sanctioned. We will be inducting them in one month’s time,” Sood told BM.

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Our analysis shows pendency in three sections — cybercrime, DNA and handwriting. These sections are only in Bengaluru FSL. We shall set up these sections at regional FSLs

–Praveen Sood, DGP, Karnataka

Personnel for all FSLs in the state

The personnel will be distributed throughout the state FSLs — around three to four in every district.

Cases such as rape, murder and robbery require SoC team as first responders.

The SoCs are equivalent to sub-inspectors, though they are civilians and not police personnel, a senior police officer said. They are scientists analysing a scene of crime.

The chain of custody is maintained and contamination is prevented, the official added.

At present, the department has one state-level FSL in Bengaluru and five RFSLs spread across the state.

Support for FSLs in the state came from three sources: the state government, modernisation, and the Centre’s Nirbhaya fund — Rs 13 crore from Nirbhaya Funds, about Rs 20 crore from modernisation, and roughly around Rs 10 crore from the state government.

Utilising these resources, FSLs are setting up advanced equipment. DNA and cyber equipment are being imported.

More power to existing RFSLs

“We are going to strengthen the existing RFSLs. This year we are going to open two more RFSLs, one each in Ballari and Hubbali. In every FSL, there should be seven specialties – narcotics, biology, physics, chemistry among others. We have seven at present only in Bengaluru,” Sood said.

Mobile FSLs

At present, there are six state of the art Forensic Science Laboratory vans rolled out to the RFSLs. Another eight are being readied: “Gradually, we will roll out one van for each RFSL. The scientific officers can go to the scene of crime and all the tests could be done at the spot inside the van. A cultural shift is going to happen in the next one and half year’s time in the Karnataka police,” the officer noted.



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Sagar Biswas

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