As the country grapples with the spiralling crime rate, the Government has an opportunity to invest in an advanced forensic system which can help police solve crime in a timely and efficient manner.
The multi-million dollar Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and Nano-Analysis, one of the latest forensic systems in the world, is here in T&T at In-Corr-Tech Ltd, a leading inspection and engineering service firm, at Cross Crossing, San Fernando.
The system has actually been here since 2010, but the company has now invested in a more advanced model which was only launched in March.
With this system, which costs between US$200,000 and US$500,000, ballistics and gunpowder residue analysis, which sometimes take years to do at the Forensic Science Centre and results in a delay in court matters, could be done in about 20 minutes.
The system’s capabilities are similar to what is seen in those CSI television shows, explained In-Corr-Tech Ltd’s vice president Riza Khan at a recent seminar held at the company to introduce the new tools and techniques to the private and public sectors.
Purchased from JEOL Ltd USA, a world leader in electron microscopic equipment, Khan said a similar seminar was held in 2010 when they brought in the first SEM system.
Khan said, “Unfortunately, despite the Forensic Science Centre coming here eight years ago for a similar seminar, we have not been asked to do any crime detection work in the last five years. A gunshot residue analysis we did in three hours on the older machine we can now do in 20 minutes. “
He said the system does a lot of testing down to the 3000 x magnification level whereas normal optical microscopes could only get to 2000 times magnification, as well as it uses electron beams to interact with a specimen.
“So you could determine what the elemental analysis of any particular component or material. So you get a spectrum in real time similar to what you will see on television in those CSI shows, ” he noted.
Khan said the system can assist in detecting if a drug is counterfeit and determines the cause and origin of a fire within minutes.
JEOL’s regional sales manager Robb Westby said, “The best and the most accurate way to analyse gunshot residue and ballistic is with the SEM techniques.
Westby said while there are other forensic systems in the country, the closest one to this new technology is about ten years old. The seminar was attended by personnel from the Police Service, Forensic Science Centre, the food and drug industry, universities and upstream and downstream operators.
Reporter: Sascha Wilson