Study Visit to Punjab Forensic Science Agency under Advanced Investigation Course: Heinous Crimes and Forensic Evidence

30 - 31 January 2020, Lahore. Identification and investigation of forensic evidence forms a crucial component in investigating heinous crimes. It is important for investigation officers to understand the value of forensics in relation to a criminal investigation, and for development of a forensic strategy. Against this backdrop, UNODC's PACT (Pakistan's Action to Counter Terrorism) team organized a two-day study visit to the Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA) Lahore, on 30 - 31 January 2020. Altogether thirty-one participants from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Police participated therein.

The purpose of the visit was to introduce participants to practical dimensions of investigating heinous crimes, and to provide them with first-hand practical experience in this field. The agenda of the study visit was designed to provide general awareness on the importance of forensic evidence and its evidentiary value. The main objective was to equip participants with the necessary information and knowledge on the role of forensic agencies and facilities in collecting and recording data on forensic evidence. The visit was made possible with the technical support of PFSA and the financial assistance of the European Union (EU).

The study tour commenced with a group photo of all attendees, followed by a short orientation session on the organization and working of different departments and sections of PFSA. Participants were then introduced to fundamental concepts and scope of Digital Forensics, specifically its identification, collection, preservation, and transportation. Experts present at the PFSA also delivered brief presentations and lectures on ways and means to approach crime scenes. Participants witnessed a practical demonstration of data extraction in cases of heinous crimes. The experts then dilated on the processes of investigation, collection, and extraction of evidence under the categories of DNA, serology, and latent fingerprints. The attendees were given a tour of the respective laboratories as well.

On second day, experts delivered lectures on the significance of location of offenders and victims in investigating cases of homicide. They also demonstrated practically how to locate and identify any scene disguises/alterations post the occurrence of a heinous crime affected by the offenders. Participants and experts engaged in discussions on explosives, firearms, tools-marks, vehicles, and ballistic tools; and were shown different firearms and ballistic tools displayed at the PFSA facilities. Experts discussed in addition the crucial role of forensic identification specialists, digital evidence investigators, and specially trained personnel from bomb disposal units and explosives demolition units, in the examination of crime scenes. 

On conclusion of the study visit, the police officials from KP and ICT Police extended their thanks to the UNODC team and staff present at PFSA. They commended the tour as beneficial, stating that they looked forward to similar exercises in future training sessions. Dr Mohammad Tahir Ashraf, Director General PFSA, who then presented shields to the trainers and certificates to the participants, delivered the closing remarks.