Advancing the Capacities of the Ministry of Interior in the Field of Custody Chain, Crime Scene Investigations and the Ballistic Laboratory in the Field of Operations and Investigations in Trafficking of Firearms and Firearms Criminality

The Roadmap project “Advancing the Capacities of the Ministry of Interior in the Field of Custody Chain, Crime Scene Investigations and the Ballistic Laboratory in the Field of Operations and Investigations in Trafficking of Firearms and Firearms Criminality” increased the capacities of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia in the entire investigative cycle. It established robust chain of custody procedures including systems that developed open case file data, ensured that laboratory handling and data management around exhibits and evidence complied with European standards and sped up ballistic analysis.

The project contributed to Roadmap Goals 1, 2, 3 and 5.

Key results achieved:

  • The sub-project improved and standardized crime scene investigations. It upgraded the regulatory framework for the National Forensic Center (NFC) through the development of four standard operating procedures (SOPs) for: (1) chain of custody in law enforcement, (2) crime scene investigation; (3) packaging and tagging of evidence; (4) development of an open case file for ballistic examination. The SOPs have been approved by the NFC.
  • It increased the capacity of the crime scene investigation (CSI) units through specialized training and equipment, in line with the requirements for the ISO 17020 standard accreditation of CSI units. 60 participants from the forensic lines of work took part in a training on crime scene investigations and chain of custody, increasing their knowledge and understanding of standardization of the ballistic terminology, as used by the forensic scientific and expert community, and communication with other stakeholders involved in criminal procedures, such as prosecutors, courts, forensic medicine institutes, etc. Also, 60 participants from the CSI units across Serbia increased their knowledge about the accreditation of the CSI infrastructure according to ISO/IEC 17020. The project procured and installed specialized SALW-related equipment for the CSI line of work to further increase the efficiency of the CSI units, and the quality of their work. The equipment consisted or 37 CSI kits, 3 forensic lights and 3D scanners with accompanying IT sets, which was also followed by training sessions on their correct usage.
  • To improve the capacities of the CSI units to collect evidence and conduct criminal investigations in reported cases of domestic violence, the project developed an analysis on criminal investigations in reported cases of domestic violence. The analysis consisted of four interrelated components: 1) overview of the procedure of the police-related to collection of evidence and analysis of possible gaps and challenges related to domestic violence cases; 2) examination and analysis of the current practice of the police in collection of evidence related to domestic violence cases, particularly in the cases in which firearms was present/misused; 3) interviews with the police officers responsible for crime scene investigation; 4) findings on the shortcomings related to procedures and practice. Once this was completed, the project supported the preparation of the Instruction (guidelines) regarding the appropriate procedures in resolving criminal offences in the field of domestic violence, which was approved by NFC. The Instruction was shared with experts from law enforcement agencies dealing with the issue of prevention, suppression and prosecution of domestic violence, as well as the Prosecutor's office and medical institutions and teams which are working together with CSI teams on the crime scene.
  • The functions of the ballistic laboratory were improved through an improved information management system, reception and storage of ballistic evidence, and ballistic testing. The project supported the central level ballistic laboratory with the installation of a Laboratory Inventory Management System (LIMS) and an Open Case File (OCF) room and database were established and equipped. The laboratory was also provided with necessary equipment to support the use of the LIMS, to generally increase the efficiency of work of the ballistic experts in the laboratory, and to ensure the security of the lab. To complement the installation of the water tank for test firing that was provided by the sub-project, and to further support the experts who are daily using the tank, a dedicated SOP was developed, and specialized equipment and training was provided to ensure the safety of all staff members when handling, inspecting and testing firearms and ammunition. Lastly, the project completely equipped the gunsmith rooms established in the central ballistic lab.

Budget: US$958,284

Implementing period: October 2019 – November 2021