Evaluation of the RCMP's Biology Casework Analysis - Summary
About the program
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is the main provider of forensic analysis for many police agencies across Canada. The RCMP's Biology Services is organized to operate as one laboratory with three sites located across the country. Biology Services is divided and analyzed under four categories: crimes against property; crimes against persons; sexual assault; and homicides. The current goal is to provide a forensic report within a 40-day target 85% of the time.
In 2014, the Government of Canada entered into new cost-sharing Biology Casework Analysis (BCA) Agreements with each province (excluding Ontario and Quebec) and the three territories. Cost-sharing was phased-in, and is based on the average proportional usage of the service during the previous two-year period.
What we examined
The objective of the evaluation was to assess the demand for Biology Services; the clarity of roles and responsibilities in the provision of services; the quality, timeliness and costs of services; factors impacting the provision of services; and whether any efficiency or economical gains could be made.
To provide an evidence-based assessment of the RCMP's Biology Services, evaluators examined multiple lines of evidence, including: documents, literature, data; and conducted focus groups and interviews. The evaluation was national in scope and covered the five-year period from 2011/12 to 2015/16.
What we found
The provision of BCA falls within the mandate of the RCMP. The service is delivered through a clearly established process where roles and responsibilities are well documented. The BCA Agreements between the provinces/territories and the RCMP has contributed to the financial sustainability and predictability of the Program
Over the five-year period examined, the demand for BCA remained relatively stable for the first four years of the Agreements with a 25% increase in service requests in 2015/16. Legislative changes and crime rates have contributed to the increased demand.
The RCMP targets a 40-day turnaround time for routine BCA requests, and this target was achieved almost half the time (47%) over the reference period.
Priority requests, which have a negotiated timeline, were achieved 91% the time. Although the lab continued to utilize alternative mechanisms such as overtime and private sector contracting to address the 2015/16 increase in demand, the achievement of combined routine and priority requests fell from 50% in 2014/15, to 43% in 2015/16. While the majority of clients are satisfied with the timeliness of Biology Services, it was unclear as to how the 40-day target was determined given the varying nature and complexity of requests.
What we recommend
Based on the findings of the evaluation, the following two recommendations were made:
- That National Forensic Laboratory Services (NFLS), in collaboration with clients, establish a service target that considers a balance between timeliness and cost of service to establish achievable diary dates.
- That NFLS assess existing communication materials targeted to the needs of police services and prosecutors, to determine if updates are required.
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