Author: Aaron O. Amankwaa
Editor & Contributor (Forensic Science), Scientect
Forensic science is a developing field in Ghana and major advancements have occurred recently. Scientific support or forensic services including medico-legal pathology services have been provided to the Ghana Police Service by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), public hospitals and the Ghana Standards Authority which operates a special drugs, cosmetics and forensic laboratory [1, 2, 3].
The Gold Coast Police (Now Ghana Police Service) was formally established in 1894 . In 1921, the CID of the police service was formed to provide technical and scientific support in criminal investigations; the fingerprint unit of the CID became fully operational in 1922 . Following independence in 1957, the name of the British Gold Coast Colony was changed to Ghana. Subsequently, the Gold Coast Police became known as the Ghana Police Service. The GPS is the main law enforcement agency in charge of policing in all the 10 regions of Ghana. Every police unit has a CID that is responsible for criminal investigation.
The CID of the Ghana Police Service operates a crime (forensic) laboratory which was refurbished in 2011 by the Ghana Government with a £3 Million funding from the European Union . The Forensic Laboratory is located at Kawo Kudi in Accra and is the only forensic laboratory serving all the 651 police stations across the 10 regions of Ghana . The Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) of the CID is an ultra-modern forensic laboratory, the first of its kind in West Africa . The FSL has 5 main divisional sections including:
- The chemical and drug analysis section
- Ballistics and firearm
- Document examination
- Photography (the oldest section)
- DNA section (formerly the serology section) 
All the 5 sections of the Forensic Laboratory are fully equipped with modern technology to provide forensic services to both the Police and the general public .
In July 2012, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the CID and e-Crime Bureau Inc., a cyber security and e-crime investigation firm based in Accra, Ghana . The goal of this initiative was to assist the CID to build its capacity for e-crime investigations and cyber intelligence gathering, a key part of the GPS 5 year strategic plan. The e-crime initiative has 5 main focus areas which include training for CID detectives and the establishment of an e-Crime Lab at the CID Forensic Science Laboratory.
Following the major advancements in forensic science within the past 5 years, forensic science education programs have been developed in some tertiary institutions to help train scientists in the field. The Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology was the first to start a Master of Science (MSc) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil.) in forensic science in the 2014/2015 academic year. The University of Cape Coast has also commenced a 4 year Bachelor of Science (BSc.) degree in forensic science.
Currently, some of the key challenges in the forensic field of Ghana include lack of a local STR frequency database and a National DNA and fingerprint database. There is also limited research in the forensic field including areas such as quality control and assurance in forensic testing and practice, the effective use of forensic science in major and volume crime, the impact of forensic evidence on the outcome of criminal cases, and forensic awareness of police constables and members of the legal profession. Additionally, guidance on forensic practice and legislation to regulate the use of forensic evidence are also limited. In future, the current CID Forensic Laboratory may also have challenges with backlogs which will have a negative impact on the effective use of forensic evidence. Government and other stakeholders must therefore consider investment in the establishment of more forensic laboratories in other regions of the country as well as investment in education, training and research.
1. Ghana Police Service. Crime Scene Management Team–CSMT Forensic Science Laboratory – FSL [online], [cited 12 April 2015]. Available from: http://www.police.gov.gh/Departments/CID/ForensicScienceLaboratoryFSL.aspx
2. Anim, J.T. Towards an improved pathology service in Ghana. Ghana Medical Journal.March 2013; 47(1): 40-45. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3645180/#__ffn_sectitle
3. Ghana Standards Authority. Testing [online], [cited 12 April 2015]. Available from: http://www.gsa.gov.gh/divisions/divisions_info.php?id=40
4. Ghana Police Service. Brief facts about The Ghana Police Service [online], [cited 12 April 2015]. Available from: http://www.police.gov.gh/AboutGPS/History.aspx
5. e-Crime Bureau, Accra, Ghana. Press Releases [online], [cited 12 April 2015]. Available from: http://www.e-crimebureau.com/index.php/resources-downloads/press-releases
©2016 Scientect e-mag | Volume 1 (1): A1