News

Backlog of 9,000 drug samples Government Analyst’s Department

  • Delays due to shortage in staff
  • Department to work two shifts 

By Sarah Hannan

Reports for a total of 9,000 drug samples sent for examination to the Government Analyst’s Department by courts islandwide are pending, creating a backlog in drug-related cases being heard, The Ministry of Justice revealed.

Minister of Justice Ali Sabry PC, speaking to The Morning, said: “Between 2015-2019, only 14 analysts were working at the laboratory. This year, we increased the team up to 28 analysts after new analysts were recruited. We have also asked for assistance from the qualified officials at the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board (NDDCB).”

Sabry further noted that the Government Analyst’s Department was given directives to clear the backlog within the next three months and to fulfil this requirement, the staff will work two shifts daily, and seek the assistance of the NDDCB staff as well.

The 28 staff members will be split into two groups of 14 each and work on a rotation basis on day and night shifts in order to clear the backlog.

Sabry said the number of drug samples received by the Government Analyst’s Department from courts in 2015 was 6,700, while in 2016, 7,900 samples were sent to it for testing. In 2017, the samples had increased by 9,000, and that number increased to 11,000 in 2018 and 16,000 in 2019.