Thu | Feb 20, 2020

Millions blown as cops, families delay autopsies

Published:Tuesday | January 28, 2020 | 12:20 AMNickoy Wilson/Gleaner Writer

The storage of bodies awaiting autopsies is costing the Jamaican Government millions of dollars annually partly because of the failure of the police and family members of deceased to turn up for post-mortems.

For the 2017-2018 fiscal year, at least $80 million was spent on storage, skyrocketing by 45 per cent to $116.5 million the following year, according to data obtained from the Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine.

The institute is responsible for conducting forensic examinations and analyses on physical evidence submitted by the police and other agencies.

An allocation of $100 million was made for the current fiscal year, but it is not clear how much of that amount has been expended.

Dr Judith Mowatt, executive director at the institute, said the police are sometimes to blame for causing delays affecting two to three cases for each of the seven pathologists currently employed by the Government.

“One of the challenges that we also have that impact our service delivery is lack of cooperation from the police, who turn up at post-mortems very late or don’t turn up at all,” Mowatt said. “We will have people who will die later and would like to schedule their (relatives’) post-mortem, but we can’t do that because we are now rescheduling the post-mortems that were cancelled for whatever reasons.”

But Dr S.L. Prasad Kadiyala, one of the forensic pathologists at the Hope Boulevard, St Andrew-based institute, says family members of deceased persons are not without fault.

“Here I will blame the family members also. Some of the family members don’t want to come, don’t want to get the post-mortem done early, and the pay the storage fees because they will be planning for the funeral at a later date and they don’t want to get the post-mortem done immediately.

“So I won’t blame entirely police, I will also blame the family members also,” Prasad Kadiyala said.

When The Gleaner reached out to Senior Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay, head of the Jamaica Constabulary Force Corporate Communications Unit, she informed our news team that she was not aware of the situation.

nickoy.wilson@gleanerjm.com